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Dec 16, 2015

Why Are Toledo Rice Farmers Paid Less Than Northern Rice Producers?

The proposed importation of rice from a CARICOM country by businessman Jack Charles of Xtra House remains unresolved tonight, even though a shipment of prepackaged Guyanese rice to be retailed on the local market is expected to arrive in Big Creek by barge on Thursday.  But along with those three containers of imported grain come a slew of issues that are presently affecting the rice industry.  The admission of goods and services from other Caribbean countries, under the CSME framework, has been a prominent feature in the ongoing debate; the cost per pound of rice paid to farmers in the north and south differs significantly.  The contention is that growers in the Mennonite communities of Blue Creek and Shipyard are collecting more per pound of rice than their counterparts in the Toledo District who are receiving less from the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation for their output.  It is not as simple as that. Sources in the industry say that a distinction needs to be made between paddy and milled rice.  Both yields are priced differently, simply because what is being produced by farmers in Toledo is unprocessed grain.  Paddy rice fetches anywhere between thirty to thirty-five cents per pound; that is ten cents less than what is being paid to Mennonite farmers for similar harvest.  Paddy rice, we understand, undergoes a lengthy process before getting to white rice.  An example of this is that a hundred pounds of paddy rice would only produce fifty to sixty pounds of white rice, depending on the milling quality. Amid allegations of price gouging, News Five has obtained the formula used to arrive at one dollar and one cent per pound of white rice on the shelf.   Firstly, ten cents is added to the initial thirty cents per pound of paddy rice for harvesting, drying and storage.  Since farmers in Toledo forego that expense, the price remains the same on both ends.  Converting a pound of paddy to milled white rice costs an extra thirteen cents, bring the production cost thus far to eighty-five cents.  Packaging, further along in the process, is an additional eight cents.  Coupled with the cost of distribution, another eight cents, gives you a total of one dollar and one cent, aside from the twenty percent markup by retailers.  The cost per pound of white rice on the shelf is now one dollar and twenty cents.

 

Stanley Rempel

Stanley Rempel, C.E.O., Circle R Products

“Jack Charles has been challenging us if we can match his price but the point I have is if he really is concerned to make sure people get cheaper food on their table, rice is a very small part of what’s on your table, dollar-wise. One pound of rice feeds ten people; at one fifteen a pound; that’s eleven cents per person. So if he really wants to make an impact and be the Robin Hood, why don’t he lower his merchandise which is a way bigger factor on the table. And also, if this rice does come in—we are looking at the big picture—yes we are fighting rice right now, but what is it going to be next year? It’s gonna be something else and the year after it is going to be something else.  Right now we are fighting rice, but I would encourage people to look at the big picture. Where do we want to be ten years from now? Do we want to be dependent on the world market rice? It’s very scary to think about that. And we are trying to boost production we are trying to get to the point where we are asking the question; can we export not can we import.”

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2 Responses for “Why Are Toledo Rice Farmers Paid Less Than Northern Rice Producers?”

  1. Belizean Pride says:

    let buy from our local producers and stop this guyana rice from devastating our local producers.

  2. ricey says:

    where did that guy get his stats!
    one pound of rice to ten person?
    you must be staving dude!

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