Panama Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Agriculture and fishing

Agriculture and fisheries are increasingly contributing to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Nevertheless, the sector still employs about every six working panamans and accounts for most of the export of goods.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Panama. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Many people are engaged in agriculture for housing needs. Nevertheless, basic foods such as corn, rice and beans must be imported as domestic production is not enough.

Major export products in agriculture are bananas, melons, pineapples and sugar. The bananas stood in the 1990s alone for almost half of export earnings but have lost significance. Coffee exports have become important and are based on coffee beans that hold one of the highest qualities in the world.

Fishing, especially on the Pacific coast, has increased in importance and revenues more than doubled during the 1990s. Since then, income has varied greatly. Salmon, shrimp and tuna in both fresh and frozen form are important export goods. For Panama defense and foreign policy, please check themotorcyclers.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

2.2 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

30.4 percent (2016)



Detention order against ex-president Martinelli

The Supreme Court issues an arrest warrant against former President Ricardo Martinelli after failing to obey an order to stand for questioning. Martinelli is still abroad (see January 2015).


Reduced murder rate

A report shows that the murder rate in the country has fallen by just over 21 percent during the first nine months of the year. In Colón, the most violent city, the number of murders has more than halved. A program aimed at rehabilitating gang members by receiving vocational training is considered to be behind the reduction. The murder rate decreased from 12 per 100,000 inhabitants in January – September 2014 to 9.3 per 100,000 during the same period in 2015.

Further investigation against former president Martinelli

The Supreme Court opens a fourth investigation against Martinelli, and the second one concerning corruption. This time it applies to the purchase of food within the framework of a social support program. Martinelli, who is still in the United States (see January 2015), is also being investigated for ordering the security service to conduct illegal telephone interception against over 150 people, including many PRD politicians and business representatives. Martinelli is also charged with 350 illegal pardons towards the end of his presidential term. The Parlacén has established that Martinelli does not have prosecution immunity.


Extensive demonstrations against dam construction

Protesters block off the Pan-American highway in protest of the Barro Blanco dam in Chiriquí (see also February 2015). The protest then begins talks that have been held with the UN as a mediator broken down between the government, the building consortium and the NGO.

HD judges are allowed to go

Víctor Benavides, a judge in the Supreme Court, is forced to resign because of suspicions of sexual offenses against minors and for illegally appropriating funds. His representative resigned in 2014, also suspected of corruption.

Ex-president is arrested

An arrest warrant is issued for former Vice President Felipe Virzi, who is charged with corruption and money laundering in the context of the investigation against the previous government. Virzi is accused of receiving $ 10 million in bribes from a company that was awarded a contract for an irrigation system that was never built, however. Several of the company’s executives have just been arrested while trying to leave the country. Virzi was Vice President from 1994 to 1999 but must have had close contacts with Martinelli’s government.


Ex-chief judge is sentenced to prison

Former Chief Judge Alejandro Moncada Luna (see October 2014) pleads guilty to falsifying a document and is sentenced to five years in prison. He will be served the sentence in house arrest. Moncada will also return two apartments worth a total of $ 1.7 million, which he has acquired since he took office as judge in 2010. At the time of his admission, he stated that he had no assets other than a gold watch and a van. Moncada was appointed by former President Martinelli.


Protests stop environmentally hazardous construction

After months of protests against the planned hydroelectric dam Barro Blanco in Chiriquí, the government temporarily halted construction, as the companies concerned failed to carry out the required environmental impact assessments. The indigenous people of Ngobe (Guaymí) claim that the dam will damage the Tabasara River and destroy large areas of cultivation.


Ex-president is being investigated for corruption

The Supreme Court decides on a corruption investigation against former President Ricardo Martinelli. He is accused of pushing up the amounts in multi-million procurement during his time as president in 2009–2014. A former government official claims he was pressured to sign “abnormal” contracts. Martinelli, who says he is subject to a political witch hunt by his successor, leaves the country when it becomes clear that the court is acting to lift the prosecution immunity he has as a member of the Central American Parliament, Parlacén.

Panama Agriculture and Fishing