Posted: Friday, March 17, 2023. 2:03 pm CST.
Photo Credit: MAFSE
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Big Falls Rice has been in the Belize market, particularly Toledo and Orange Walk, since last month. However, Big Falls Rice has been officially launched by the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation (BMDC) on Friday morning in Big Falls in the Toledo District.
BMDC Managing Director Valentin Carrillo said being closed as a milling plant for six years, the Big Falls Mill restarted the milling of rice last year. BMDC found out that the Big Falls Mill could still produce very high-quality rice, so after consulting with the rice community and making a social impact study, BMDC decided to reactivate rice milling at the Big Falls Rice Mill.
Carrillo said that since the Big Falls Mill is now conducting its own milling, drying, and packaging, BMDC has been able to increase the price it pays farmers from 29 cents to 40 cents per pound of paddy. Before last year, the Big Falls Mill was only operating as a drying facility for six years. Despite that, Carrillo said the crew at the mill serviced the mill during the inactive years and kept it in good condition.
Carrillo said that 130 milpa rice farmers and 15 mechanized farmers from 25 communities in the South are now delivering rice to the mill.
“The product we are launching today is the mechanized version of the Big Falls Rice product,” Carrillo said.
“Very soon we are going to introduce the Milpa rice into the Belizean market. We are confident that these rice products will be a Belizean favourite.”
Carrillo said that with the introduction of Big Falls Rice, BMDC and the rice community have made great strides.
“The progress we have made in just a year and a half has been tremendous,” Carrillo said.
“We’re on the right track,” Agriculture Minister Jose Abelardo Mai said.
“With access to this mill, the milpa rice farmers are assured of a secure market with a production and income for their families.”
“Looking towards the future, I’m confident that the rise of this once fallen component of our rice sector will be of great benefit for the people of Toledo.”
Carrillo said that Big Falls Rice can now compete in the Belize rice market. They have upgraded to digital scales and intend to expand to an automatic bagging machine system so that the rice can be delivered on a timely and consistent supply to all the country.
The Big Falls Rice is sold in 1, 2, 5, and 20-pound bags in Premium and Grade A qualities.
“Premium is whole grain with basically no half grain or quarter grain and Grade A has a small percentage of broken but you rarely see it,” Carrillo said.
Big Falls Rice is now available in Toledo and Orange Walk. Carrillo promised the rice will soon be in San Pedro and then the other areas of the country.
Carrillo said BMDC also sells a smaller amount of what is termed as ‘broken rice’ for industrial horchata and for animal feed. That is sold for $25 for a 50-lb bag.
Carrillo said BMDC is already studying the production of enriched rice sometime in the future.
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