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Feb 20, 2017

Ministry Sympathizes; Working to Resolve

Godwin Hulse

So, what is the Ministry doing about the potato crisis? Well, we caught up with Minister of Agriculture Godwin Hulse today and he told us that the ministry met with potato producers from seven zones, as well as with as many as nineteen of the twenty-five importers. Minister Hulse says that a potato working committee made up of producers and importers has been established. Today, he told us that there should not be any Mexican imported potatoes on the market – although farmers claim otherwise – and as to those permits- he says that the last one was issued over a month ago. So, where does this go from here? Hulse explains his position on the permits and the contraband potatoes:

 

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“The discussion was to try to get the two to marry in a harmonious way to deal with the potato situation. As you know, the price is not controlled; the Government does not set potato prices. It was my understanding that they agreed to a price of seventy-five cents. There was San Carlos who agreed there; but I understand when they went back to the farmers, the farmers did not agree. Now, let me put this in the mix, I also understand that San Carlos has the highest production of fifteen thousand pounds, if that is correct, and everybody else have seven thousand to eight thousand pounds, then San Carlos should be able to have a lower price, not a higher price. Because as the economies of scale say that if you have greater yields, your cost comes down. But I won’t argue with them with that. The Ministry, I understand, and Belarmino is not here but he is meeting with them to help. The Ministry is acting in the role of facilitator, because one of the problems as I understand it, there is about two point five million pounds of potato, but the country uses a hundred thousand a week – so that is twenty-five weeks supply. Somebody has to store it; somebody has to filter it to fit through the process. I can’t speak for this year because I just got this Ministry, but I am hoping that next year when we have it, we won’t this; that either we have storage or we have phased production because everything doesn’t come in one day because that is the problem with most production.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Sir, as it relates to permits, though, do these have a date for when they are valid – as in it is valid from this period to that period?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“I think it is for eleven days; eleven days validation.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Because the farmers in La Gracia are saying to me, well, they said that they have had this issue before; this time around it is worse. They have heard from certain people that they get double permits; triple permits; is there any truth to this?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“No ma’am. No ma’am. And if anybody has double or triple permit, I appeal to you to bring it in to the Ministry – who is duplicating or who is doing this. Belize is a country of games and it really tick me off, yuh know. But we issue permits and we can make that list available to you all and those are the people who should have. And BAHA tries to monitor and remember I said it is not only the potato that is coming in that is disenfranchising those who produced; it is things that are coming in that are not inspected; things that we don’t know what the quality is and that sort of thing as well.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Sir, so as it stands right now, the farmers who have thousands of potatoes just rotting on their farms or going to waste – some of them say they are trying to negotiate down the price, but some of them say it makes absolutely no sense because the chemicals are so high, the fertilizers are so high and they are basically operating at a loss if they bring the price down to the price that the Mexican potatoes are going for – where production is really way cheaper in Mexico. So, at this point in time this is just a loss for the farmers?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“But there should be no Mexican potatoes here. There should be none.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“But there are, sir?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“Well, people need to point out where they are because as I said, the last permit was for four thousand pounds on the eighteenth of January. We are at February the end – almost. So, there should be no – and if it is a hundred thousand a week of it being used, then do the math. There should be none, unless it is coming from La Union or somewhere else and that is where we have to clamp down.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, no inspectors going out to check these markets or that sort – from your end – your ministry’s end?”

 

Godwin Hulse

“BAHA does that inspection. But I am not talking about that – I am talking that if there is Mexican potato still in the market or coming in then we have to activate customs again and I will appeal to the Minister and the police to put up some check points to check.”

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1 Response for “Ministry Sympathizes; Working to Resolve”

  1. MNHG says:

    MONEY DAZZLES EYES !!!
    I EXTEND SOME BLUE NOTES AND THE CHECK POINTS LOOK THE OTHER WAY !!!
    THIS COUNTRY DOES MORE MORDIDAS THAT GERMAN SHEPHERD OR WOLVES !!!

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