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Dec 18, 2015

Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche on Detainment of Guyanese Rice

The stalemate over the importation of rice from Guyana continues to play out and tonight importer Jack Charles is no closer to resolution. Three containers of Guyanese rice arrived on Wednesday night at the Big Creek Port where they continue to sit tonight. The Belize Agricultural and Health Authority did not allow the rice cargo to be offloaded claiming that proper procedures were not followed by the importer. For days, the agro productive sector has been lobbying against the importation of rice since there is enough supply for local consumption, but Charles says he can bring in the staple at a cheaper price. On Thursday, he laid out his case on regional treaties which favor him; today C.E.O. Jose Alpuche from the Ministry of Agriculture gave the government’s perspective on the issue that can very well end up in court. 

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

“I believe the importation from Mister Chawla came in without an approved permit from BAHA. BAHA has since stopped the cargo to do the necessary investigation that’s required. What comes out from that, they will have to determine whether they let the cargo in or not.”


Duane Moody

“The only way that the government or the only way that BAHA should not be able to provide them with their product is if they have a written reason as to why they are against it. Is there any reason as to why they are not releasing this product to this importer?”


Jose Alpuche

Jose Alpuche

“If they had applied for the product in the proper way, we would have been able to establish where the product is from. They are saying it is from Guyana, I don’t know that for a fact. They are saying that it is clean; we don’t know for a fact either. So if they had followed the rule, we’d be able to do things properly. That’s the first point, but I don’t want to comment too much on this matter because more than likely it will end up in court. This product, because it is a CARICOM origin, does not require a supplies control permit. Let’s be clear on that. What it requires is the sanitary and phytosanitary clearance from BAHA. And if you don’t believe the necessity of that, look at what has happened to the poultry industry and what is happening with the shrimp industry and then you begin to understand the importance of ensuring that we do all we can to protect our industries; the agricultural health. We’ve had incidences…there is a well celebrated one where Chile blocked importation of Guyanese rice because it was contaminated. So it is not a question to ask; we have to be on guard. The issue of the license…licenses are applied for; there is a period with which it is granted, but if it not granted the request expires. That is as far as I’d go with that. Duane the reality is that for many years, many of the importers—not all, but a number of importers—believes that they could do what they feel like as it relates in to importing goods into Belize. There are some incidents in the past that have actually hit the press. I’ve had a particular personal intervention with Mister Chawla in the past where I’ve had to call him and ask him to desist from threatening because he actually issued threat to some of our senior people within BAHA because they didn’t allow him to do what he wants. Everybody has to accept and follow the rules.”

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1 Response for “Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche on Detainment of Guyanese Rice”

  1. Teacher says:

    Wow, these are some serious points Alpuche is bringing out, serious points I haven’t heard on talk shows! Keep it up CEO!

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