EFEBuenos Aires

Farmers from the southern Argentine provinces of Rio Negro and Neuquen on Tuesday gave away 10 tons of fruit in downtown Buenos Aires to protest the "pitiful" prices paid to growers compared to the prices consumers paid for produce.

"We are giving the fruit away because we are not being paid, and we are throwing it away," Sebastian Hernandez, president of the Allen Fruit Growers Association in northern Rio Negro, told EFE in the Plaza de Mayo.

The goal "is to show consumers that they are paying between 30 and 40 pesos per kilogram (about $1.25 per pound), when we, the farmers, are being paid less than three pesos (25 cents) per kilogram," Hernandez said.

Argentina's fruit growers expect a solution because, otherwise, "more than 50 percent of the farmers will disappear, or they will not produce quality fruit again," Hernandez said.

"We want to be paid what is fair, no more," the farmer said.

About 2,000 people gathered in the downtown square outside the Casa Rosada presidential palace in front of piles of cases filled with apples and pears. The giveaway was completed in about two hours.

Elsa Alcaraz, one of the people waiting to get some fruit, said she supported the farmers and their plight "broke her heart."