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Jan 8, 2016

Is There a Shortage of Carrots on the Local Market?

Roberto Harrison

There is another looming crisis within the agriculture sector to report on tonight, involving vegetables, particularly carrots, being imported from neighboring Mexico.  The importation of produce from across the northern border is placing local farmers in the Orange Walk District at a great disadvantage.  They complain that acres of root vegetables are rotting in fields behind San Carlos Village, amid supplies licenses being granted to importers to introduce cabbage, carrots, potatoes, lettuce and broccoli, among other leafy greens.  News Five has obtained copies of official permits issued at the end of December to a pair of individual wholesalers from Orange Walk and Belize City, those licenses being valid eleven days from the date of approval. Today, the Ministry of Agriculture reacted saying, “the importation of fresh vegetables is necessary to supplement domestic production as Belize does not have sufficient year-round production.  Importation is usually carefully timed to avoid oversupply or shortage of produce.” While the latter may be true, farmers argue that there is presently a glut in the local market.  That, aside from the fact that they are the ones directly affected by the surfeit.  According to Chief Agriculture Officer Roberto Harrison, permits are issued when there is a shortage of certain vegetables locally.

 

Isani Cayetano

“I have here in my possession two license for two importers and these would be for various vegetables, including carrots…”

 

On the Phone: Roberto Harrison, Chief Agriculture Officer

“Yeah, yeah.  There are several commodities that we allow the importation once there is none on the local market, you know, and those would include carrots, cabbage, celery, lettuce, beets, mushrooms and cauliflower, as far as I could remember.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“How would you then dispel the notion that while government is prepared to support local production, the same is not being done for the small farmers.  How does one dispel that notion?”

 

On the Phone: Roberto Harrison

“I don’t think that is a correct statement because we do in fact, once we have all of the proper data and information coming out from farmers we are always quick to stop the importation from one standpoint.  We do know that contrabanding of these goods also is a big problem for us and again, while we try to do as much surveillance and monitoring on that that is greater than us to stop the complete contrabanding of not only carrots but there are all other sorts of commodities that are lucrative for those people that engage in that type of business, you know.”

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