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Jun 11, 2015

Quality Infrastructure for Agriculture Sector…

A national dialogue on the importance of quality infrastructure to the agricultural sector was hosted in Belize today. Agriculture, as it stands, accounts for fourteen percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the country and contributes to a large number of the employed labor force as well as the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Over the past three years, major exports amounted to three hundred and twenty-three point six million U.S. dollars in respect to products such as citrus, banana, sugar fisheries and livestock. So today’s consultation is part of a CARICOM initiative in collaboration with the Bureau of Standards and the Ministry of Agriculture. According to C.E.O. Jose Alpuche, the consultation looks at the needs of the agricultural industry in terms of improvements in quality at the enterprise level and when creating policies.

 

Jose Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Agriculture

“At the end of the day, the issue of quality is aimed at the consumer. We have to provide products that the consumer will have confidence in and it starts with quality, with standards. We also need to compete not only on the domestic market but also on the international market and the only way you will be able to hold a place. of course price and consistency of supply are factors, but as I said, at the individual level, we normally take decisions on what we buy based on quality.”

 

Duane Moody

“So where is Belize when it comes to the quality of its products that we sell locally and overseas?”

 

Jose Alpuche

Jose Alpuche

“We have some very good examples in Belize already in the agricultural sector of quality. We have what I like to refer to as that other national symbol, Marie Sharp, which really and truly enters the market place because of the quality of her product, because of the consistency of the product, because of the price of her product. We have other industries that maintain shares in very competitive markets: bananas, citrus, our seafood. And a lot of it is based on quality and the consistency of the supply.”

 

Duane Moody

“Sir, so what would you say are some of the setbacks that some of these merchandisers have when it comes to providing that high quality product/services?”

 

Jose Alpuche

“It is a very costly exercise to implement quality infrastructure, but it is something that we cannot ignore. The agriculture sector has been maturing of date – it is becoming more and more export driven; therefore we need to put the investments in. you look at what has happened with cattle, with livestock. We have had to invest twelve million dollars in a three-year program to look at the agricultural health aspect of it, but it is a quality issue. But you look at the end results, the prices have actually doubled. The prices paid to the farmers have actually doubled. These are some of the benefits of investing in quality infrastructure.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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