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Jan 15, 2016

M.O.A. Officials Return to Belize after Rice Discussions in Guyana

Government is proposing a bilateral arrangement with Guyana which it hopes will settle the controversy surrounding the importation of rice. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Gaspar Vega, along with C.E.O. Jose Alpuche, returned from Georgetown, Guyana this afternoon where they met with several government representatives, including Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture Nigel Holder, to discuss the current rice situation in Belize.  During those discussions a bilateral agreement on rice importation was put on the table. The gist of the accord which is very much in its nascent stage, is that Guyana would be able to provide Belize with high quality rice should there be a shortage on the local market.  Food security and Belize’s need to remain self-sufficient in rice production were high on the list of priorities during those discussions says Vega.


Gaspar Vega

Gaspar Vega, Minister of Agriculture

“Our visit to Guyana was one that we thought was appropriate.  Guyana has always been a country with whom we’ve had very good bilateral agreements, they’ve been very supportive.  We thought that due to the present circumstances with the rice, it was just proper for us to go and visit with my colleague, Minister of Agriculture Honorable Holder.  We also had a meeting with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Greenidge.  We also met with the C.E.O. and Chairman of the Guyana Rice Development Board with whom we discussed the present situation of the rice, where they already knew of the breach of or the breaking of the law by the importer.  They knew about it; however, we discussed and they were very, very happy that we had granted the importer the opportunity to re-export and during our meetings everyone, like I said, we have been very lucky that Guyana’s government, previous and present, has been very supportive.  We all agreed that Belize needs to ensure food security for its country and in this case, we needed to assure the viability of our rice industry.  We discussed that in detail and we even discussed that we must look for a way forward in securing the food security and even taking it to CARICOM.  That same day, late in the evening, we paid a courtesy call to the Secretary General of CARICOM, His Excellency Irwin LaRocque and we expressed to him our visit to Guyana.  Of course he was aware of what was occurring in Belize, but with Guyana we had intensive meetings where we even discussed the way forward with not only rice or even probably setting up a joint team to discuss how we can enhance each other’s economy.”

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