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Dec 14, 2015

Guyana Rice Arrives in Belize Thursday…Without a Permit

A shipment of rice is sitting at a Guatemalan port and is scheduled to be unloaded at the Big Creek port this Thursday. At least that is the plan of businessman Jack Charges of Xtra House who says he can bring in the staple at a lower price to retail locally. But there is a hitch, because officially it is said he does not have a permit to import rice since there is enough produced for the domestic market and rice producers are up in arms. Still yet, Charles maintains that he doesn’t need a permit because he is protected by regional agreements. The situation has the making of a stand-off. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. 


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The looming crisis within the agriculture industry, particularly among farmers and producers of rice, to a great extent, involves the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.  CSME is intended to benefit the people of the region by providing more and better opportunities to produce and sell goods and services to attract investment.  The objective is to create a unified environment for supply and demand among participating member states.  That idea, in theory, promotes the full use of labor, as well as the exploitation of other factors of competitive production resulting in greater variety and quantity of products and services to trade with other countries.

 

In Belize, the agro-productive sector has been chiefly responsible for the milling of rice for local consumption.  Despite a sharp decline in sales just a few years ago, by as much as fifty percent in 2011, enough grain is produced to ensure self-sufficiency.  Nonetheless, businessman Jack Charles, proprietor of RC Imports, intends to bring in twenty percent of the total that is being consumed annually.  On average, Belizeans consume roughly twelve thousand tons of rice each year.  A fifth of that is two thousand, four hundred tons.  As a first step, it is expected that three containers of rice shipped from Guyana will arrive in Big Creek on Thursday.

 

The introduction of Guyanese rice, according to Jack Charles, will provide an alternative on the shelf.  Ease of access, he contends, will also support checks and balances as it concerns the price per pound of rice on the local market.  On the other hand, the Belize Agro-productive Sector Group, acknowledges that the cost of production is higher than other countries in the region.  However, the retail price in Belize, according to the group, is certainly on the lower end of the spectrum, comparatively speaking.

 

Xtra House, once those containers are cleared, plans on selling imported rice at fifty-two cents per pound.  Its rationale is based on the fact that the Belize Marketing and Development Company brought in north of three million pounds of rice from Guyana in 2014.  That shipment was sold at ninety-four cents per pound, realizing a profit of almost one point five million dollars.  According to Jack Charles, at a fixed price of sixty cents per pound, retailers can vend for sixty-nine cents and still be viable.  That arrangement is in place for a two-year period.

 

News Five understands that wholesale Guyanese rice is presently being sold between forty to forty-five cents per pound as freight on board any vessel leaving Georgetown.  Interestingly, rice is also being retailed in Guyana for anywhere between eighty cents to a dollar per pound, similar to existing prices in Belize.  That begs the question of sustainability over a long term period.  Is cheap rice really viable?

 

Charles’ response to that question is, if producers are willing to sell their first grade rice for sixty cents per pound, as it was four years ago, then he would be forced to rethink his position on importing rice to the country. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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3 Responses for “Guyana Rice Arrives in Belize Thursday…Without a Permit”

  1. Belizean Pride says:

    I wish the stevedores make a protest again on this one and don’t unload the ship cargo with that rice from Guyana.

  2. Truth says:

    This is exactly what PM Barrow means when he says “the best is yet to come”

    kill the local market and kill the Belizean economy with is illegal activities and the sad reality is that it dies after one news cast..

    nothing comes out and gets addressed..!!!!

  3. jack sparrow says:

    im coming for u, pirate… jack charles… pirate of Belize…. voice to the people… stop buy anything from RC Imports…presidente and kubuli beer tastes like ass…. buy BELIKIN and CIRCLE R RICE

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