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‘The dairy sector is more competitive’ – Minister Jose Abelardo Mai

Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2023. 7:16 pm CST.

Photo Credit: Rubén Morales Iglesias

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: “The dairy sector is more competitive and not experiencing any surplus at this time,” Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise, said last Thursday at the House of Representatives Debate.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) takes pride in the work in has been doing in the Dairy sector, according to the words expressed by Minister Mai

“It is no secret that the lack of support for processing and adding value to locally produced milk has been affected by past policies that support the importation of cheaper, heavily subsidized dairy products,” Mai said knocking the previous administration.

According to Mai, the importation of contraband goods, particularly pasteurized milk and ice cream, has had a negative impact on market access for locally produced dairy products. He pointed out that even the Government lost revenue when the Lala milk importer didn’t pay GST for over a decade.

This he said “further stagnated the dairy sector in Belize”.

However, Mai said that with the lessons learned during COVID-19 and with Government’s farm-to-table approach, and PlanBelize’s objective that Belize must consume more of what Belize grows, and should grow more of what we consume, the sector is now moving ahead.

“Working in partnership with the newly formed Belize Dairy Association, we prepared and recently launched the National Dairy Strategy 2022 to 2026,” he said.

“New investments have been made that have facilitated the processing of UHT milk sold now in pouches. This has taken the local market well, and has largely addressed the issue of fresh milk not lasting long enough for consumers.”

He added that with better management of imports and the improvement of the quality of local dairy products, the dairy sector is producing more, is more competitive, doesn’t have surpluses which previously caused the industry to throw away quite an amount of milk due to lack of markets.

He acknowledged that at the moment, there is a slight shortage of milk, which would mean that there is space for growth in the industry.

“As a result milk production is expected to increase by 5% per year and move away from the 10-12 million lbs per year that the industry stagnated under the UDP administration,” Mai said as he kept knocking on the Opposition.

“Cheese is selling well especially with the support on restricting cheese imports, and there is no surplus of milk” Minister Mai said.

“The UHT milk being produced and sold in pouches has taken the market very well and hence there is no longer a large buildup of locally produced cheese at the processing plants.”

 

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