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Apr 20, 2011

Credit Union promises to work with onion farmers in Corozal

On Tuesday, we reported on the plight of the onions farmers from the northern districts who diversified from sugar cane to onion production only to now find out that the Marketing Board has imported onions from Holland. The farmers are feeling the pain in their pockets since their losses are tremendous. There are debt obligations with lending institutions which have to be met while the onions rot in the thousands of acres of onion fields. In the following report, News Five’s Jose Sanchez, looks at the financial implications for the farmers.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

At least one million pounds of onions are rotting on the ground in Orange Walk and Corozal Districts.  Many of the farmers have loans with banks and lending institutions such as St. Francis Xavier Credit Union in Corozal Town. The head office manager of St. Francis Xavier found it necessary to visit some of the farms in surrounding villages this week.

Elvis Canul

Elvis Canul, Head Officer Manager, St. Francis Xavier Credit Union

“Approximately we have about ninety percent of the onion farmers’ work with the credit union, hand in hand. This one of the reasons we are here because we have a high portfolio also invested here. We are concerned about the loss that the farmers will have. In turn it is a loss for us too, because they need to pay their loans. And we are trying also to see how best we can assist them in their time of need in crisis. They have the production but there is not a market for them to sell their product and hence they will pay their obligation with us.”

Amadeo Che

Amadeo Che, Former President, Corozal Agricultural Producers Association

“What we want is not only to see for the next year what we can do. But to look at this big loss that we have. And the government I don’t know if it will be the prime minister. But I hope he is hearing this concern—to do something because we need to pay the banks, tuition fees, we need to bring food to our homes.”

Before Santiago Che brings food to his home, he and his brothers have already lost ten to twelve thousand dollars per acre on six onion fields.

Santiago Che

Santiago Che, Chairman, Corozal Onion Producers Group

“Now I am suffering because of the losses I have now. I usually pay somebody to help me plant, to clean the onion fields and to harvest. But now I can’t do that. I can’t help the people from Cristo Rey now because I don’t have the money to do that. I can’t sell the onion. So I would like to ask the minister to do something for us because we don’t have the money to help our family. We have a good production here. We have harvesting about twenty-five thousand pounds per acre.  Imagine how much I am spending and losing here. I think that I am losing about eighteen to nineteen thousand dollars just in this farm. Share it with four of us. It’s a big money I am losing here.”

Jose Sanchez

“You’ve heard the stories, you’ve seen the farms. People can’t even pay their schools fees. What can you do? You are the financier but you also have your obligations.”

Elvis Canul

“Definitely we are hearing from the concerned famers of other obligations, with schools, with tuition, with the small shops, they have credit there. And in turn we are trying to assess the losses they will have and in turn the credit union will see some sort of restructuring in their loans to assist them with their other obligations they have.”

Jose Sanchez

“Do you think onion farming is something they should continue? It seems it’s a government decision that caused their losses.”

Elvis Canul

“Ok. These farmers were currently, most of them were cane farmers.  They were advised to diversify the cane to onion. As cane farmers they were working with us. As onion farmers they continue working with the credit union. And we see that any agricultural production is a high risk.  High risk because of natural disaster or because of human made errors in ordering or importing when there is local production in the country. So we would want to continue to work with these onion farmers because they have to do something to survive.”

It is clear that even though the credit union can restructure loans, a set price structure is needed for onions; a quota system should be set so farmers can know how much to plant and the Ministry of Agriculture should find to listen to the farmers concern. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Cabinet met on Tuesday, but the predicament of the farmers was not listed as one of the issues discussed in that sitting.

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6 Responses for “Credit Union promises to work with onion farmers in Corozal”

  1. David says:

    This is what you get for being an honest productive citizen in Belize…

  2. daveyt says:

    Now, if the story about the marketing Board importing Onions is true. Belizeans – boycot imports & only by local produce.

    Growers, harvest the onions anyway, load them onto dump trucks, then on Tuesday show your disgust at Mai & the GOB by dumping them in the car park of the Marketing Board offices on Tuesday, blocking his GOB SUV in! He’ll then know what 65,000 lbs of onions looks like!!!!! Do the same at the same time at his residence, to drive the point home!!!!!!!!

  3. Earl Grey says:

    INCOMPETENCE ABOUNDS……………..blame the GoB.

  4. Roy Yates says:

    What happen to the Minister of trade, can he help these farmers with possible markets in Central American Countries or our Caricum partners? If we are buying onions all the way from Holland why can’t the farmers seek foreign markets which could be all the way to Africa. These farmer need to get agressive in finding market and not just look for the sure market at home.

  5. Concern says:

    I honestly believe that onion is that a good product to diversify.It’s too fragile and instead of profitting from this market the poor farmers will end up with debts in the credit unions.

    The problem is they planting too much of it and the market is slow plus ppl still buy from eslewhere.The only way you will profit here is that you produce it and sell it yourself.But this takes lots of time and money.

  6. idea says:

    Instead of giving gang leaders a furnished house, and $$$$ why not help these hard working people. Barrow always left behing the latinos!!!!

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