Though agricultural development in Panama has historically been hampered by a series of structural issues, including fragmented ownership of land, limited access to financing and deficient transport infrastructure, efforts are now under way to boost agricultural output. According to Panama’s National Institute of Statistics and Census, agriculture and livestock GDP increased steadily over the 2010-13 period, rising from $764.4m to $863.1m. The upward trend came to a halt in 2014, however, with the sector’s GDP falling 0.2% to $861.3m. The sector’s contribution to overall GDP has declined rapidly in the past decade, alongside the continuing industrialisation of the economy; in 2014 it stood at 2.4%, down from 8% in 2000. Soon after assuming office in 2014, President Juan Carlos Varela unveiled a multimillion-dollar plan to boost domestic agricultural production and enhance food security, a move expected to contribute to the revitalisation of the sector in the coming years.
This chapter features an interview with Carlos Fernández, President, Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama.