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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I-CAL's 2nd day in Panama

For the next two weeks, collegiate agriculture students who were selected to take part in the International Collegiate Agricultural Leadership (I-CAL) program will be traveling in Columbia and Panama and blogging about their adventures.
Buenos Dias everyone! This is the 2011 I-CAL Team reporting Day 2 in Panama City, Panama. We began our day by conducting a short meeting about the U.S. Grain Council efforts abroad, with Mr. Kurt Schultz, Regional Director for U.S. Grains Council in the Panama City, Panama office. The U.S. Grains Council promotes U.S. grains in four different areas. These different areas being; market intelligence, market development, market defense and access. After our informative meeting with Mr. Schultz we were off to see the Panama Canal!

Completed in 1914 the Panama Canal is America’s only trans-oceanic waterway. The Canal is the main transformational hub for International trade in North America. The canal is welcomed each morning by one of the approximately thirty five ships that will pass through the canal each day. This transit generates revenue of approximately five million dollars per day for the country of Panama.

Logistics play a key role in the success of the Panama Canal, large freight ships are able to cross the America’s cheaper and more efficiently, than if they were to travel around the tip of South America. Fright transportation is all about volume economics. Each Panamax ship can contain up to five thousand individual containers, weighing up to twenty two tons each, thus creating high volume low cost freight.

The nationalization of the Panama Canal has led to the emergence of many Panamaian owned freight terminals. Today, we had the opportunity to visit Manzanillo International Terminal (MIT). Logistics, logistics, logistics, is the name of the game for MIT, a highly integrated computer system tracks and documents each individual container that arrives and departs the terminal. MIT has the capability of handling thirty-two containers an hour and eighty-five thousand containers a month.

The workforce is made up of mainly union workers, of which they have an excellent working relationship. MIT charges two hundred and sixty five dollars per container that is removed and put back on a ship. A container never sits more than twenty one days in MIT’s fright yard. The mass of product that is moved within this company was simply amazing to all of us.

Last stop of today was the Desarollo Posicional Elevator, through this company all of Panama’s feed corn and soybean meal is delivered and picked up at this location. We toured the new grain quality lab, to gain a better understanding on why it is important to test grain shipment qualities. We also toured the grain bins and horizontal grain storage facilities. All followed up by a very cultural Panamaian dinner in downtown.

Amazing day here in Panama, until we meet again,
Caleb Wurth- Kanas State University
Kelli Fulkerson- South Dakota State University

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