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Oct 26, 2000

Belize launch first soybean processing plant

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This morning official ceremonies marking the opening of a soybean processing plant were held in Spanish Lookout. The plant now opens a new area in agricultural production for Belizean farmers and promises to boost foreign exchange in the country. Presently Belize imports approximately twenty million dollars worth of soybean products and another ten million dollars is spent in importing cooking oils. However, with the new factory now on line, such products can now be manufactured at home.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

The factory is small when compared to other industrial plants, but it has the capacity to process fourteen million pounds of grain every year, which is approximately eight thousand acres of soybean. The soybean processing plant, a first for Belize, will also save government millions of dollars in foreign exchange.

Daniel Silva, Minister of Agriculture

“We’ve been importing ten to fifteen million dollars per annum for animal protein, mostly soybean, for the shrimp industry, the poultry industry, the big industries. This now allows us to be totally self sufficient and to export some.”

This year, it is projected that only nine hundred acres of soybeans will be produced. With a processing plant available in the country, however, farmers now have the opportunity to produce a new product when the planting season starts in November.

Daniel Silva

“Well the Belizean farmer now will have the capacity to produce ten thousand acres of soybeans and this year we are aiming for two to three thousand acres.”

Today, the plant, which is located in Spanish Lookout, was officially opened. It will be managed by Ben Wolfe of Soy Product Limited. Wolfe says the soybean meal is a very important agricultural ingredient that farmers depend on for their production. Belizean consumers and businesses as well should also expect to benefit from the plant.

Ben Wolfe, Manager, Soy Product Limited

“Well we make the animal food protein, all the protein for the poultry and also extract the oil, that’s the new machine we got in to take the oil of the soybeans where we plan to process it further to sell cooking oil for the restaurants and the Belizean consumers.”

The plant cost three hundred thousand dollars. Wolfe was assisted by Richard Mines who invested in the plant and was given government assurances that when they do not have any local soybean available they will be allowed to import.

In related news, Agriculture Minister Daniel Silva, has announced a stop to the importation of turkeys, and says that only a small amount of Picnic hams will be allowed in. The decision came as a result of a meeting held between producers and importers, where it was decided that the production of local hams and turkeys is on the increase and the move is an effort to support the local industry. Silva says, however, that if a consumer wants to bring in one ham or turkey from the United States it will not be a problem, but importation in bulk will not be permitted.

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