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Minister of Agriculture appoints new Shrimp Task Force to revamp industry

Posted: Wednesday, January 25, 2023. 7:25 pm CST.

Photo Credit: MAFSE

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Jose Abelardo Mai appointed today a new eight-strong Shrimp Task Force to revamp the industry.

“The purpose of the appointment is to address the industry’s constraints and pave the way forward for the revival of the industry,” the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE) said.

The Task Force led by Chairman Hugh O’Brien, Director for Citrus and Diversification, met on Wednesday in Belmopan at the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) Conference Room.

According to a MAFSE press release, Minister Mai joined the inaugural meeting virtually, outlined his expectations, and expressed his confidence in the members appointed to the Task Force.

“A timeframe of three months is being granted to the Task Force to complete its work and submit its recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, which will then be submitted to Cabinet for final consideration,” MAFSE said.

MAFSE is intent on reviving the shrimp industry that peaked in 2014 driving production to 16 million pounds earning BZ $90 million plus in foreign exchange.

“However, in 2015 the industry was hit with the Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) and this disease decimated the industry. Production ballooned downhill and since 2016 annual production has hovered between 1 and 2 million lbs, barely enough to supply the local market,” MAFSE said.

The Agriculture Ministry has been working with the industry to boost production and control EMS from affecting it negatively. Additionally, MAFSE, in seeking new markets, received approval from Mexico in September of 2021 for Belize to export shrimp to the neighbouring country.

The other members of the Shrimp Task Force are: Alvin Henderson, Chairman of the Shrimp Growers Association; Charlie Naresh Punwani, Owner of Quality Shrimp Farm; Silvia Mendez, BAHA Animal Health Officer; Digno Polanco, MAFSE; Dr. Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Economic Development; Richard Reid, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; and a member of the Development Finance Corporation.

 

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