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Restricting importation of vegetables and opening the livestock exportation market are giving farmers competitive edge, says Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai

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Posted: Wednesday, May 19, 2021. 3:46 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The policy changes of restricting importation of vegetables and opening the livestock exportation market are giving farmers a competitive edge says Minister of Agriculture, Fооd Ѕесurіtу, аnd Еntеrрrіѕе (MAFSE) Јоѕе Аbеlаrdо Mai.

Mai said the policy changes were necessary to boost the agricultural sector.

“In an effort to try to rebound agriculture, we had to make several policy changes,” Mai said.

“One of them is that we started to import less, we started to restrict certain importation of vegetables so that we’re giving the farmer the competitive edge.”

“That has clearly shown results. We have had an increase in the sales of potatoes, increase in marketing and sales of onions, increase in marketing, and sales of carrots. Most of the vegetables increased, which means that the shift in controlling the imports has given positive results.

“So, the farmers are happy, they are pleased. You don’t hear them complaining that they lost so many thousand pounds or million pounds of this or that because we managed the importation very well this year and we will continue to do so,” Mai said.

Farmers like Mennonite leader Ivan Martin at Springfield in Cayo and Maximiliano Hernandez of the New River Farmers Cooperative in Orange Walk said during Mai’s tours to their areas that the importation of vegetables and fruits that Belizean farmers produce had been hurting their pockets.

“Every year we became enemies of the importers because the profits for importers per pound are better than if they buy locally,” Hernandez said.

“Importing is easy but we will not do it if [they] don’t buy from our local producers,” Minister Mai said.

As of November 2020, MAFSE also embarked on an aggressive campaign to export livestock.

Principal Agriculture Officer Belarmino Esquivel said at the MAFSE AGM recently that Belize has exported more than 23,000 heads of cattle in the last few months. Esquivel said Belize is making strides with the partial-scope agreement with Guatemala and the agreements it is entering with Mexico and Taiwan.

 “The policy of exporting livestock to the Central American region and Mexico was a serious policy shift to open the markets,” Mai said.

“That has generated enough foreign exchange earnings and so these are shifts that you can see that are having positive results in the economy. And farmers know it. They feel it. So, I think those was two implementations of these strategic actions have definitely resulted in positive and tangible things,” Mai concluded.

 

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