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May 30, 2008

Rice scarce as farmers hold out for higher prices

Story PictureA trip to many of Belize City’s most popular supermarkets has confirmed what shoppers have been saying for several days. No rice no deh. The problem apparently lies in that by now familiar phenomenon of skyrocketing prices for diesel fuel and other agricultural inputs. The mechanised farmers of Blue Creek say they approached government three weeks ago, saying that in addition to higher fuel prices, the cost of fertilizer has more than doubled, along with other agro-chemicals. They are seeking a new price for producers, said to be in the vicinity of one-fifteen per pound. According to Chief Agricultural Officer Eugene Waight, the problem is not production, as the ministry estimates there is enough paddy to supply the nation well into the next crop in September. It appears, however, that Blue Creek growers, who market under the Circle R label, are reluctant to sell at present prices which they say are below their costs of production. They are awaiting a decision from Belmopan … which may come as early as Tuesday’s Cabinet session. Until then Belizeans may have to get by with potatoes, ground food and tortillas. When rice does come back on the market the suggested retail price may hit a dollar thirty—still lower than the prevailing rates in Mexico and Guatemala.

And if the price of rice is not enough to get you down, try the new fuel prices which will take effect at midnight tonight. Premium is up twenty-three cents to ten-eighty-two, regular has risen the same amount to ten-sixty-eight, diesel is up a whopping ninety-four cents coming in at ten-fifty-five and kerosene has come to rest seventy-eight cents higher at ten dollars and fifty cents per gallon.

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