General — 31 January 2018 — by Micah Goodin
Potato farmers may come out on top this year

After consultations with the farmers, Ministry of Agriculture says no importation licenses will be issued

BELMOPAN, Cayo District, Thurs. Jan. 25, 2018– Local potato farmers (of Irish potatoes) in the north and west suffered massive financial losses last year because the sale of their harvest was undermined by the importation of potatoes from Mexico. Farmers had told the Amandala that the crisis was caused mainly because importation licenses were issued to highly connected UDP cronies.

With this year’s harvest scheduled for next week, farmers made a proactive move by meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture in Belmopan on Tuesday. The purpose of the meeting was to establish an estimate of production figures so that the Ministry would better be able to protect the local market.

Potato producers from Cayo, Orange Walk, Stann Creek, and Corozal attended the meeting. Farmers in the Cayo District estimate that they will produce 2.8 million pounds; farmers in Corozal anticipate that they will produce 500,000 pounds; Orange Walk farmers expect a harvest of 250,000 pounds; and farmers in Stann Creek are looking to produce 45,000 pounds. The total estimated production of potatoes by Belizean farmers is 3.6 million pounds.

The meeting proved a success for the farmers, as the Ministry of Agriculture has decided it will not issue any importation licenses for potatoes at this time. However, there will be further consultations with the farmers to determine the costs of the potatoes locally.

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