WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Rice producers in Peru are demanding that the government reinstate import duties for the commodity, asserting that the imports are negatively affecting internal rice prices, according to a Dec. 4 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA said the main protests are coming from rice producers in the San Martin and Tumbes regions of Peru. Peru produces about 2.2 million tonnes of rice per year, the USDA noted.

According to the USDA, Peruvian rice imports have been on the rise over the past several years and are forecast to reach 350,000 tonnes in 2017, which compares with 176,000 tonnes in 2013. Despite the increase, rice imports only accounted for about 13% of total consumption in 2016, the USDA said.

The leading importers of rice to Peru are Uruguay (62%), followed by Brazil (22%) and Thailand (11%). The United States supplies only about 2% of Peru’s imports, the USDA said.

“Rice, from all origins, is imported into Peru duty free but is subject to the Price Band, which is currently $15 per tonne,” the USDA said. “Rice producers are well organized and usually have significant negotiating power. They have already managed to make the government keep the price band without a limit when it was capped at 20% for sugar, corn and powdered milk.

“Average import price in 2016 was 56¢ (1.9 soles) per kilogram. The average price paid to local producers in 2016 was 1.88 soles, which was 12% higher than the previous year.”