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Aug 23, 2018

P.U.P.’s Jose Mai Says Taiwan’s Rice Donation Will Hurt Local Producers

Taiwan’s rice donation on Wednesday has some local rice producers up in arms. This is according to the P.U.P.’s Orange Walk South Area Representative, Jose Abelardo Mai.  Mai says he was shocked when he learnt on the news of Taiwan’s ten thousand bags of rice donation to the Ministry of Human Development which falls under the responsibility of Minister Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez. The ten- thousand bags of rice fill five containers and weigh about twenty-two pounds each. A release from the government says that the value of the donation is two hundred and fifty thousand Belize dollars, which according to Mai, could have been used to aid local rice producers, who have been battling a surplus for quite some time. Mai says that several local rice producers have contacted him to express concerns that the donation may negatively impact the local market.

 

Jose Mai

Jose Mai, Area Representation, Orange Walk South

“I was pretty much flabbergasted when I saw the news last night that Taiwan donated five containers of rice to the Government, essentially to Minister Martinez’s Ministry I think. Everyone shares the same view and everybody is surprised at that donation. It comes at a time when our farmers have a large amount of rice in their containers. We have rice that was harvested two years ago which we are unable to market quickly enough because there is enough. There is a surplus of rice in the country at this time. We are pretty much surprise at such news. Why would Taiwan choose to donate rice to us when we have a surplus of this commodity in the country? If they so much wanted to donate, they could have purchase the rice from our farmers and make it available to the N.G.O.’s. What is wrong with that?”

 

Reporter

“But it is not the money that they are donating, it is the actual rice.”

 

Jose Mai

“But there is a cost to it. As a matter of fact, I think he mentioned the value of the rice-two hundred and fifty thousand Belize dollars. When you calculate the amount they donated, I think I came up with a figure of ninety-six cents per pound. Now, you can get rice from our farmers at maybe eighty-seven to eighty-nine cents per pound wholesale. So that rice landed here is even more expensive that what you could have paid for it with our farmers.”

 

Reporter

“Since this story broke, until now you have been able to speak with rice producers to arrive at the idea that there is a surplus in the country recently?”

 

Abi Mai

“Of course, as a matter of fact while the news was on last night I got three calls from the farmers in the north. They were first to bring it to my attention. Then I looked at the news and I said that this was out of order. Every pound of rice imported displaces a pound of rice locally produced- a pound of rice that pays taxes that employs people, which creates employment and income to families. So two hundred and forty thousand dollars takes famers a long way today especially in a situation where the country is in right now.”

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