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Organic Farming in Panama
Organic farming is catching on in Panama. Or maybe folks are just relearning how others farmed before commercial fertilizers and pesticides. A Miami Herald article, October 27, 2008, describes on farmer's journey back to organic farming in Panama's central highlands. As with many who have gone "back" to organic farming saving money on fertilizers and pesticides is an impetus. In the end the reduced need for tractors and diesel fuel, improved health of farm workers, and pesticide free crops are a bonus.
Farming around Cerro Punta near Volcan Bar�, Panama's highest peak, produces over three forth of Panama's vegetables, excluding corn, rice, and wheat. After the overthrow of the democratic government of President Arias in 1968 the succeeding governments of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega promoted heavy use of commercial fertilizers and pesticides such as Paraquat which is banned in Europe and requires a license to use in the USA. Attempts by local farmers to organize to present their health concerns over high local rates of cancer, asthma, and acute poisoning were met discouraged.
After the overthrow of Noriega by the USA in 1989 environmental groups crept back into the area and farmers started using organic fertilizers made with rice husks and chicken droppings as well as more labor intensive but cheaper methods of sustainable agriculture.
Part of Panama's low cost of living is the low cost of vegetables in Panama increasingly grown organically. For modern farmers "organic" farming is often new. However, sustainable agriculture goes back to the beginnings of civilization. Maybe the Panama farmers are just going back to their roots.
It is reassuring that Panama is taking steps to protect its environment and food supply from chemical contamination. It is also nice to see that by using sustainable agriculture Panama is employing more workers and sending less money to foreign pesticide makers.
For those interested in investment in Panama real estate, especially as a means to residency in Panama, involvement in sustainable agriculture could be a refreshing approach.
There are a number of ways to get residency in Panama. The large investor and reforestation visas both involve money and the investor visa requires hiring Panamanian employees. An investment in land and planting teak trees is one road to a Panama residency. A more enlightened approach might be to buy an old farm, run down by years of commercial fertilizers and pesticides, and implement sustainable agriculture with a number of Panamanian employees. Panama has to import part of its food so virtually anything you can grow in Panama will be consumed within hours of your farm and often within days of harvest. Employing Panamanian workers along with your real estate investment will allow you to receive long term residency in Panama.
Real estate investment has done well in Panama. Also the high end of the Panama real estate market is in a pause due to North American credit concerns the middle of Panama's real estate market and commercial real estate are strong and likely to grow for years with Panama's economy.
What a great idea to revive the soil on a Panama farm while you watch the value of your real estate investment grow.
For more ideas on Panama real estate investment come to see us at ABPanama. We have been managing real estate portfolios for more than 23 years and do business throughout Panama.