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Jan 15, 2016

G.O.B. Takes Jack Charles’ Place as Potential Rice Importers

According to Minister Vega, the effect of the meeting and the resultant agreement simply means that the sustainability of the local rice industry is of utmost priority, a roundabout way of saying that businessman Jack Charles has lost the fight to import Guyanese rice to Belize.


Isani Cayetano

“What does this specific outcome mean for the local importer who has been making efforts to bring rice into Belize?”


Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture

“Well, like I said, we all agreed that it is in the best interest of Belize to secure food security and in this case secure the viability of our rice industry.”


Gaspar Vega


“So what will happen in the future, will we be importing more rice from Guyana, under what circumstances and who will import it and will we end up paying the local producers prices for it which is cheaper than what an importer may be able to sell it for?”


Gaspar Vega

“Well you know Jules, and everyone in Belize knows that we have imported rice previously and we have imported from Guyana, being a CARICOM country, most naturally we would search for a supplier from CARICOM and we had imported from them only because we had a shortfall in production.”



“But will that be happening again?  Have you all worked out a protocol for when there is a shortfall for this to happen again and since Guyanese rice has a cheaper cost of production and a cheaper cost than Belize rice, will consumers ever benefit from it or will the benefits end up in the pockets of local producers?”


Gaspar Vega

“I don’t think that we would ever do that, not even contemplate that.  I don’t know exactly what price the present importer is buying and willing to sell for but I am certain that if the situation would appear where we would have a shortfall we would ensure that we import from a CARICOM country like we have done from Guyana and we would just ensure that we get our investment back.



“So were the Guyanese having any feeling that Belize had put up an illegal barrier to trade by using Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards as a technical barrier to trade when really the rice should have been allowed unto the market?  Were they offended by that?


Gaspar Vega

“By no means.  In fact, they can recall that when we imported in early 2014 we had to go through that process to ensure that the supplier was complying with food security, that the food was safe enough for us to import.  So it’s not that we did that just for the first time, even when Belize Marketing Board had imported they went through that process.”

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