Ramón Martínez, general manager of the Marín Campos Salt Cooperative in Panama, expanded the huge salt mountain piled in old wooden warehouses.Since a year ago (Covid-19 pandemic) sales plummeted and partners, there have been hundreds of quintals They have no choice but to “stick to it.”
“so so, Sales fell by 60%. We started in the second half of this year, in February, for a simple reason, because our warehouse was still full last year. But we have never closed,” Martinez, 69, said.
The man who appeared to be less than seventy years old explained that when they start to harvest, they usually have 10,000 quintals of “spare”.This year they started 70,000 unsold.
By his side, in Warehouse No. 7, the three men wear no shirts and wear seat belts around their waists to avoid hurting their backpacks in the constant sunlight. White sack: Two of them stick the shovel in a salt block of more than two meters, fill them up, and then weigh the other one and close it.
Yes it is They mechanize work: “Three shovels, stuff a little more”, one of them kept working.
they are Several workers This year they were able to participate in their salt harvesting event in El Salao, a small coastal town in the Coclé province in central Panama. The pandemic not only destroyed the economy of the 130 members of the cooperative, but also made some communities unable to work.
“We give the work to the people in the town: in winter, we have 25 collaborators, and when harvesting, we increase or decrease 75 people (…), but there are Not so personal This year, because the salt mine is not working properly,” Martinez explained.
Martinez’s cooperative is Economic coup mirror: Due to the closure and containment of the coronavirus, Panama’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 17.0% in 2020, the unemployment rate climbed to 18.5%, and informality rose to more than 52%.
“We produce salt to sell salt, so if there are customers, such as ranchers, tuna, processing plants, everything is fine, because there is not enough sales. We can’t keep our promiseI know we like payroll,” he emphasized.
in the middle Desert landscape It focuses on the 75-year-old Julio Pinzón with dark bones, his hands behind his back and a hat to protect himself from the sun. He walks into the bathtub to stretch the plastic and remove the water.
This “The salinero of a lifetime”For more than 20 years, it has manually filled all the salt marshes through a simple pipe system that is one of two projects maintained by the cooperative.
Marion Campos Cooperative Founded in the 1950sIt has two pumps: one under the mangroves, which sucks water from the “summer” tides and pushes them into two “heated” lakes, where the water sits for a few days until it reaches a higher salt concentration.
And then another smaller machine Pumping Use pipes to push it in and distribute it into the bathtub.
All of this is only in dry season, When heavy rains in Panama brought a ceasefire for the first three months of the year. Although it is increasingly affected by climate change.
This plastic barrel” Use salt water to keep them outdoors and dry them depending on weather conditions: they usually require 7 days of salt water to dry, and another 5 days to dry the salt.