Colombian govt proposes norms to end ag protests

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Colombian govt proposes norms to end ag protests

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced a series of measures Thursday in response to nationwide protests that have shaken the agriculture industry since Aug. 19.potatoes_square

"I have decided to put in place a set of norms that are going to help and mitigate the effects of this crisis and help farmers with topics that have been put on the table and that we know exist," Santos announced over Colombian television and radio.

Among measures, Santos said the government would focus on pesticide and fertilizer prices, elimination of tariffs for certain products and direct fertilizer importation.

"We are going to place a control on the price of fertilizers and pesticides. For example, there are 23 products that still have tariffs. We going to lower those tariffs to zero so that the user's cost lowers. We are also going to do everything possible so that the lowering of that tariff arrives to consumers," he said.

Santos added that tariff changes would come with a probationary price period as the nation established international reference prices. There would also be research into pricing safeguards.

"There are mechanisms and forms to avoid importation of certain products or tariffs are places, because these products are arriving to the country at laughable prices and prejudicing our producers," he said.

Meetings are planned today between Santos, agriculture minister Francisco Estupiñán and fertilizer representatives.

During the week and a half of protests, there have been extensive reports of road blockages, supply shortages and violent clashes between police and demonstrators, most notably in Boyacá, Nariño and Cundinamarca.

Commenting on behalf of the Colombian Horticultural Association (Asohofrucol), communications manager Mayra Suárez said, "Our sector has been very affected by road blockages that impede food circulation to the nation's central zone and Nariño."

The Guardian reported that during the protests, at least one demonstrator and one police officer had died, in addition to dozens of injuries and around 150 arrests.

Related story: Clashes continue in Colombia's ag strikes

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