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Prime Minister John Briceño: ‘Soybean industry is important for food security on a long-term basis’

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Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2022. 11:08 am CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: “The soybean industry is important for food security on a long-term basis,” said Prime Minister John Briceño on social media after joining the Agriculture Minister and the owners of Quality Feed Mill (QFM) in Spanish Lookout in breaking ground for the new $8million Quality Vegetable Oil Refinery on Tuesday.

“I welcome the opportunity for our soybean industry to support local market demand and afford Belize greater import substitution,” said Prime Minister Briceño.

“Belize has been dependent on imported soybean concentrates to mix with local corn and sorghum for animal feed. In addition, we have been dependent on various imported oils and fats for use in our homes and restaurants.”

Pointing out that his Administration as well as previous PUP governments have encouraged and supported soybean production in Belize, he said the Government of Belize welcomes this $8M investment and once it’s managed and operated well, this plant will be able to earn its keep and save Belize critical foreign exchange.

“With this project, we want to supply fresh cooking oil to every Belizean and work toward export of the same high quality cooking oil,” said QFM manager Levi Braun.

“I want to continue to assure that as a government, we will continue to work with you. We want to ensure that you succeed, that your investments pay off great dividends, and to create more opportunities for our people,” said Prime Minister Briceño to the owners of QFM and the Spanish Lookout Mennonite leaders at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“If we can start to produce our own vegetable oil and we don’t have to import that’s a plus and if we can do even more if we can export into the Caribbean, that’s even a bigger plus for Belize. That means that we’ll have to be able to plant even more soybeans, and then you have to hire more people, bring in more foreign currency. So that’s a win-win for all of us.”

The Prime Minister noted that currently, Belize imports approximately $24 million in soybean and vegetable oils. He said the new factory should help in changing those figures in Belize’s favour. Belize has gone from no soybean production in the 1990s to 28,000 acres last year. Production was almost 40 million pounds (or 400,000 bags) of soybean and the projections are for 40,000 acres in the near future.

Quality Feed Mill said the Quality Vegetable Oil Refinery should be operating by the end of the year.

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