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Dec 14, 2015

Local Rice Producers Stand Against Importation

The Mennonite community of Blue Creek, in Orange Walk District, is the largest producer of rice in the country.  Considering significant investments that have been made in the industry to date, a lot is at stake for farmers in the north.  According to Stanley Rempel, Managing Director of Circle R Products, the Belize Agro-productive Sector Group is fully against the importation of rice since enough is being produced to satisfy local demand.

 

On the Phone: Stanley Rempel, Managing Director, Circle R Products

“We are definitely opposing it, I mean it’s going to obviously be very detrimental to the whole rice industry in Belize.  But we’re looking at the big picture, right, which we’re trying to get people to understand as well.  We know a lot of people do understand, but if we look at the big picture, what’s the food security worth for Belize because currently Belize is self-sufficient in rice and rice is an everyday necessity.  So if this rice does come in which yes we would wish for people to have cheaper rice, we don’t believe that rice is too expensive.  If you compare the retail prices in Belize to our surrounding countries our retail prices are right on par with everybody else.  One pound of rice feeds twenty people, retailing at a dollar fifteen a pound. If you do that math that’s cheap food. But looking at the big picture being self-sufficient in rice, if this rice comes in, there’s no way local industry can compete with the price of that. What that means is that that industry is gonna go. And if you look at fifteen years from now, where do we wanna be? Do we wanna be self-sufficient in rice or do we want to be depending on imported rice. Right now there is rice available on the world market but five years from now there might not be. And with the industry gone, who’s gonna supply that rice? So food security is something that we have to look at. Yes we are looking at our own industry going down the drain, but look at the bigger picture. It’s rice now; it will be chicken tomorrow. It’s bananas, it’s citrus, it’s sugar cane…everything is struggling. And if we can’t export citrus, if we can’t export bananas, if we can’t export sugar and we are going to start importing rice, our trade deficit is going to be so big there won’t be no product exchange to import that rice ten years from now.”

 

Stanley Rempel

Isani Cayetano

“One of the positions taken by the importer is that if you guys would lower production to a point where you can retail rice for sixty cents per pound, then he would reconsider his position with regards to importing rice into the country.”

 

On the Phone: Stanley Rempel

“He’s saying if we would be willing to lower our retail price. We could do that; we could do that for one year until our rice farmers have all given up. But there is absolutely no way a farm can sustain itself with that price and we’ve had numerous meetings over the past two years with the government of Belize trying to get our production cost down. I mean we are a small country; we don’t have economies of scale like Guyana has. Guyana has a lot of benefits that we don’t have. The truth of the matter is, it cost more to grow rice in Belize and to prove that fact, look at prices on the shelves in Jamaica and surrounding countries, they buy their price in Guyana and it still retails at the price that more or less what Belizean price retails for. So somebody in the middle there is making a lot of money versus here in Belize where production costs are very high and we are still able to retail that price at the same price range as other countries this means that we believe that the price is fair.”

 

As we mentioned earlier, a shipment of three containers of bulk rice is scheduled to arrive from Guyana on Thursday; however, a permit from BAHA is yet to be granted.

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1 Response for “Local Rice Producers Stand Against Importation”

  1. Truth says:

    defend your business Mr. Rempel.. Our government cares less about us.

    he cares about himself only

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