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Government, local stakeholders to revive rice production in Toledo

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Posted: Monday, March 29, 2021. 12:28 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: This past Thursday, mechanized and milpa rice farmers in the Toledo District received welcome news: the Government and its chief agricultural marketing arm, the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation (BMDC), will help make rice nice again as an industry for the southernmost district.

The Toledo District’s area representatives, Mike Espat and Oscar Requeña, were joined by Agriculture Minister Jose Mai, BMDC representatives from Belize City and Toledo and others at the Big Falls village rice mill to formally launch the revival of rice production program.

The Ministers, at a question-and-answer session following the launch, committed to improve the district’s farming roads among other concerns.

Five key commitments were discussed and agreed to at the launching: first, that the rice mill and Agriculture Department promote production of rice types Blue Bonet and Bell Patna to milpa farmers and variety Crystal will be more focused towards mechanized rice farming, while also looking into two other varieties, Virginia and CARDI-70, for use in 2022; second, to formalize a payment plan in the shape of full payment to milpa farmers at time of delivery and two-part payment to mechanized farmers at two weeks after delivery and before Christmas of the production season year; third, to establish between the mill and farmers a Seed Contract and Payment Plan, where farmers can obtain the rice seed from the mill for the planting season and the payment is made thereafter or deducted from the rice paddy at delivery of the harvest; fourth, that the mill and district agriculture department will properly coordinate with farmers a seasonal production plan for planting, harvesting and delivery and preparing to receive daily yields from Monday to Friday and occasionally on Saturday; and fifth, to survey farmers to collect updates on acreages, farmer data information and profiles that will be used to register or update farmer data in the Belize Agricultural Information Management System (BAIMS) on an annual basis.

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