Coffee woes spur El Salvador jobs plan
In a national radio and television address, Flores said that starting next
month, his government
will spend $185 million on infrastructure projects and farming initiatives designed to help 25,000
coffee farmers and their families find ways to make a living that have nothing to do wit h
The international price of coffee has dropped sharply in recent years,
falling to about $56 per
100-pound (46-kilogram) bag.
"El Salvador can't escape the coffee crisis caused by falling prices on
the world market,"
He said the new program will create jobs in 69 towns and villages in the
eastern provinces of
Ahuachapan, Santa Ana and Sonsonate where 87 percent of the population depends on
coffee crops to survive.
The program will create a $100 million fund that will extend low-interest
loans and farm aid to
coffee farmers willing to grow new crops.
Another $85 million will go toward creating construction jobs by building
new roads, bridges
and schools in the area, Flores said. That money also will go to fund dozens of employment
workshops designed to expand the options of the work force in eastern El Salvador.
Flores' announcement came four days before the legislature is expected
to allow coffee
producers to have more time to pay a $23 million loan private banks extended the industry. The
deadline for payment was Monday, but lawmakers plan to order banks to allow producers
another three years to pay off as much of the debt as they can.
According to the Salvadoran Banking Association, 75 percent of coffee producers
off their loans, meaning that the industry as a whole owes more than $3.3 million.
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.