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Ministry of Agriculture investigating purple onion contraband

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2022. 3:07 pm CST.

Photo Credit: Santiago Che/MAFSE

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai says contraband purple onions are being sold in the Belizean market and his Ministry is looking into it.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) started investigating after farmer Santiago Che of Cristo Rey in Corozal said he couldn’t sell his onions because the Ministry was flooding the market with imported onions. On Sunday, Minister Mai visited Che and promised him he would investigate the situation while advising him that he also had to properly cure and dry his onions before putting them on the market.

Mai said in an exclusive interview with Breaking Belize News that according to MAFSE’S report issued on December 21, 2021, there were 8,000 pounds of purple onions on the market and that number had only gone down by 1,000 pounds to 7,000 by Monday (January 10) when the Ministry’s officers made a countrywide check.

“That shows that there’s additional purple onion imported,” said Minister Mai.

MAFSE figured there had to be illegally imported onions because it was inconceivable that only 1,000 pounds of purple onions were sold within the period from December 21 to January 10.

“Absolutely, that is the problem you see because once you start to import it’s difficult to control, especially the purple onions,” said Minister Mai.

“The yellow and white onions come in BMDC (Belize Marketing Development Corporation) bags. The people who contraband are very shrewd. They even use BMDC bags. So, that is something we’re looking at, at this time too.”

“But we’re getting a grasp on that. BAHA (Belize Agricultural Health Authority) and Customs are working on that.”

Mai said that Belize still has white imported onion on the market but the amount is minimal.

“In regard to white onions, we still have a small number of imported onions on the market, but that is not a problem because the onions we’re harvesting today are still in the curing and drying process. By the time those are fully cured and dried and ready to go to the market, that imported onion will have already been absorbed by the market.”


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