Posted: Thursday, January 28, 2021. 9:45 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Minister of Agriculture, Jose Mai, accompanied by his technical team, began his 2 day tour of the South today and visited a number of agriculture initiatives and projects in the Toledo district. One of the places visited was Naledo Belize Ltd., a turmeric (or yellow ginger) processing facility located in the heart of Punta Gorda Town. At the turmeric facility, Minister Mai and his CEO, Servulo Baeza, was greeted by the founder of the company, Umeeda Switlo and her staff.
Omeeda Switlo gave a tour of the facility to the Minister and his entourage and provided a run through of the different products the company has on the market. The main product highlighted was Truly Turmeric which is a wild crafted whole root turmeric paste. Truly Turmeric is a small but growing export product that is now distributed in both Canada and United States. The product can be found in over 2,000 retail stores across North America and has been nominated for three international food prizes and recently one at food matters UK and EU best new product.
This exceptional line of products is made in Belize, by young Belizean employees who are a close focus of Ms Umeeda Switlo’s. As she told the team today, she believes in “empowering the youth by employing the youth”.
What May surprise most is that this business, which has done exceptionally well on the world market, and it is internationally renowned for its quality, was drafted and offered to the Belizean government first. Founder, Umeeda Switlo, claimed that she drafted “two business plans for basil and turmeric to use agricultural products in Toledo and Stann Creek focus, and to focus on small growers and youths doing the value added work to create commercial products”. However, according to Umeeda Switlo, the government did not do anything with these plans so she returned to Belize and launched Naledo Belize Ltd.
While in some people’s minds, the lack of response by the government can be summarized in 2 words “wasted potential” to sum up the opportunity lost by Belize’s government to create a lasting, world class industry, others would argue that a private sector led Naledo Belize is a better option especially when compared to the long list of failed and costly government projects that the South has endured over the years.
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