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Mar 26, 2018

Lime Scarce; Ministry Wants to Import from Mexico

There is a report that as many as one hundred and thirty boxes of limes were imported today from Mexico, without a proper Pest Risk Analysis. The lime, however, reportedly remains with customs at the Santa Elena border because of strong objections to the importation. It follows from a report last week that the fruit is scarce. Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche could not confirm the importation report is accurate, but he did say that the analysis will pave the way for potential importation of the fruit. With prices reaching highs of a dollar and twenty-five cents and production not up to par, the ministry is acting, says Alpuche, to stem contraband and create a stopgap measure until the local production reaches standard. As for production in the North, Alpuche says conditions are not ripe for it.

 

Jose Alpuche

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

“I’m not aware of limes being imported today; I am aware of the pest risk analysis that has actually been done. But that in and of itself, says that the B.M.D.C. is doing things the right way, unlike what has happened in the past. We’re doing things the right way by going through, just like any other importer, to do the pest risk analysis that is required.”

 

Aaron Humes

“So if it is that analysis points to a certain way forward, that is what the ministry will take?”

 

Jose Alpuche

“Look, you said that many Belizeans use lime. I use lime, and right now we are paying seventy-five [cents], I have heard as much as one-twenty-five for a single lime. We have a duty to the farmer as well as to the consumers. We have never been able to produce lime year-round in the country, and that’s nothing new. What we have right now, though, is a tremendous demand from Belizeans but also took a tremendous demand from the tourism market, because it’s not just the fish for Easter – it’s the margaritas that the tourists want. And we’re coming under growing pressure from the tourism market to be able to have fresh lime on the market; we’re trying to do it the proper way. The other side of this coin is that there is a quite a bit of contraband coming in, and we absolutely need to do it properly. If we import formally, that will take the difficulty, it will take the risk we have from contraband products coming in illegally.  There is quite a bit of limes coming on-stream in the future; there’s quite a bit of acreage being planted. Look at the evolution of this thing: what had happened when HLB came out, there was a decision taken long before I was in the Ministry, to cut back all the limes, including the trees held by individuals; that created quite a shortage. The B.M.D.C. has asked for the permit, simply because with the B.M.D.C., we are able to stop the importation as local limes become available. This is something that it’s the best balance that we could afford at this point in time.”

 

We’ll have more from the C.E.O. on other agricultural issues later on.

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