Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2023. 11:18 am CST.
Photo Credit: Larry Waight – BBN
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Though the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) had reached an agreement with Mexico in July 2022 that cattle farmers from all of Belize could export cattle to Mexico, it’s not until now that that agreement will be carried out.
Last July, MAFSE said a decision by the Mexican Government authorized by Mexico’s Agricultural Health Authority, Senasica, had given the go ahead. Despite the agreement, up to now, exports had only been allowed from the Orange Walk District as their quarantine facilities were the only ones approved by Senasica.
“The decision means that more than 5,000 cattle producers of the entire country of Belize can now export cattle to Mexico once they meet export requirements,” Belarmino Esquivel, MAFSE’S Principal Agriculture Officer and Livestock Director had said at the time.
MAFSE Chief Executive Officer Servulo Baeza said recently in announcing the follow through, that Belize stands to gain approximately BZ S50 million annually with the opening of the market.
Last year, MAFSE said a Senasica veterinarian had verified that the Belizean cattle met the export requirements and that Senasica had handed over that verification role to the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA), whose veterinarian would oversee inspection at the point of origin. Esquivel said this measure would considerably decrease the cost of doing trade with Mexico as a Senasica veterinarian wouldn’t have to come to Belize every time an export shipment is being made. Each visit by a Senasica veterinarian means an additional cost.
Under the new agreement, MAFSE said the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) doesn’t have to inform Senasica of the start of the cattle quarantine period. Up to now BAHA has had to inform Senasica, so that the Mexican animal health authority can schedule their veterinarians’ visits for the export shipments to be made.
Also, under the new format, BAHA will authorize the corrals where inspection will be carried out. So far, only the corrals in Shipyard and Blue Creek in the Orange Walk District have been certified.
Last year Belize exported approximately 5,000 head of cattle valued at BZ $6.45 million to the SuKarne company in Mexico. Exports to Guatemala, however, have been far greater.
Baeza said that the change comes after constant dialogue between the Belize Government, mainly the Ministry of Agriculture, and Mexican authorities particularly after the 2022 visit by the Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador and bilateral meetings between the Belize Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai and the Mexico Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development Dr. Victor Manuel Villalobos Arámbula which started in 2021.
Baeza said MAFSE is now meeting with the livestock stakeholders to formulate a strategic export plan.
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