Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Guatemala Hosts U.S. Grains Council Meeting

The current global economic situation is causing a great deal of uncertainty in U.S. agriculture, from ethanol to exports.

U.S. Grains Council international directors and consultants presented to more than 200 attendees at the Council’s 6th International Marketing Conference and 49th Annual Membership Meeting in Guatemala City, Guatemala about the state of the economy in their respective countries as well as the potential for U.S. grains in those markets.

The purchasing power of consumers is weakening, thus pushing the consumption of meat, milk and eggs down in many countries such as Mexico, Japan, Korea and China.

However, less developed countries like Morocco, Iraq and Turkey are seeing a more stable economic situation, which may create expanded opportunities for U.S. farmers.

“We see very stable demand for U.S. grains in 2009,” said Kurt Shultz, USGC director in the Mediterranean and Africa.

“Tourism is the key, currently. If Europeans stop spending tourism dollars in North Africa, we may start seeing the impact of the global economic crisis.

"As of yet, the impact has been minimal and the economy is very stable.

"This is good news for U.S. producers.”

--Grainnet

50,000 Without Water in Esquintla

Community Development Councils (Cocodes) and citizens seek the support of Government through a request to Sandra Torres de Colom, because 15 neighborhoods in the City of Escuintla have been without water and the city is unable to provide a solution.

The people of those neighborhoods have suffered without water for more than six months. The number of people affected exceeds 50,000 in the neighborhoods of Prados de San Jorge, Portales, San Felipe, El Recreo, South Palera, Monterrey, Santa Marta, Madrid, El Maestro, Sebastopol, Prados del Rio , Cascade 1 & 2, The Effort, New Spring Settlement Center and Escuintla. In some neighborhoods the service has been irregular and some have gone for days without water.

One resident of El Recreo said that for three years he bought water by the barrel at a cost of up to Q480 a month.

Some residents have taken to attempting to drill wells but this is a dangerous solution because it can cause subsidence of the land and cause damage to buildings unless the well is located sufficiently far away.

Abuse of Authority

The community leader José Adán Santos pointed out that in 2008 the Mayor of Escuintla, Julio Melgar, ordered employees of the municipality to disconnect a pipe that was feeding another neighborhood and route the water to his residence in the colony Soesna, leaving residents in the center of the city without water.

Cold and Ice in the West

Yesterday morning, municipalities of Quetzaltenango were covered in ice. Temperatures ranged between five and seven degrees C below zero, according to the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH).

This weather also affects Los Altos, Ostuncalco San Juan, Concepción Chiquirichapa, and Cajolá Olintepeque where INSIVUMEH has a weather station.

Angel Rhodes announced that the cold wave will persist for two weeks. He explained that the temperature rises as the day progresses due to exposure to the sun, but fall after about 3:00 P.M. Rhodes said that these wide temperature swings are characteristic of this season.

So far in 2009, the temperature has dropped below zero 18 times in Quetzaltenango. The most dramatic was the last weekend when the temperature in Xela dropped five degrees below zero centigrade. In Palestine and Concepción de Los Altos Chiquirichapa the temperature dropped even more. Other departments also affected include the municipalities of western area, Huehuetenango, north of San Marcos, Solola, Chimaltenango and Totonicapán.