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Dec 2, 2011

More bad news for rice farmers

The rice industry is reeling from problem to problem. Blue Creek rice growers have experienced a huge drop in sales by as much as fifty percent and more recently imported rice from Uruguay added to their woes. Well, tonight there is another hurdle in the industry which has to do with a new tax for water that the battered industry will have to pay. The industry is at a crossroad because one of the biggest growers is threatening to close down. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This thirty-five acre spread of cereal grain, a few miles north of Circle R Mills here in Blue Creek, is being mowed using a combine harvester, a giant piece of machinery that reaps and threshes the paddy.  The total harvest is approximately a hundred and fifty-seven thousand, five hundred pounds of rice.  In its wake is a shallow, waterlogged field which forms part of an irrigation system known as an upland rain fed.

Ed Reimer

Ed Reimer, Proprietor, Maya Pearl Rice

“Normally we expect to get somewhere between three and five thousand pounds per acre.  We do what is called upland rain fed, we do have leveled fields with levies and everything so if we have the normal amount of rain we dont have to do a lot of work with water but we do have to control it from leaving the field.”

While farmers depend heavily on rainfall, a crop season with minimal showers presents its own challenges forcing them to resort to pipe water.  News Five understands that at a recent meeting with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture a new tax regime was being introduced for the consumption of water in the rice industry.  This, for most growers here, is an additional blow to an already deteriorating state of affairs.

Peter Dyck

Voice of: Peter Dyck, Managing Director, Hill Bank Agric. Co. Ltd.

“It’s taken Belize from 1970’s to about three or four year ago to become self sufficient rice, what government has done right now I would say we would wait another thirty or forty years before we our self self-sufficient in rice again because there is no reason to make an investment in rice production at this point in time, fuel costs are so high, labour is high, taxes are not helping us a lot we don’t get incentives for rice production in this country and so I don’t think there is any future in rice I honestly believe that.”

Coupled with the lack of incentives is poor marketing.  It is difficult for growers to trade old stock and these silos there are tons of stale rice.

Ed Reimer

“I think the rates of production could easily go up if the other problem was solved and that is financing.  But to do farming properly you need to be able to move your product within a reasonable time from the date of production.  You cant be holding it for a year and a half or two years, its too long because youre paying interest to hold time and in the case of rice, when rice gets to be like a year and a half to two years old it starts to taste old and so you need to move the rice seasonally.  It needs to move.”

Inactivity when it comes to the sale of rice has taken a major toll on Hill Bank Agricultural Company Limited, the country’s largest producer of rice, forcing it to go out of business.

Voice of: Peter Dyck

“We cannot continue to grow rice as we have up to now, I want to take this opportunity to thank all the customers and the people of Belize in the past that they have supported Uncle John brand of rice by buying it and consuming it, we are sorry that we have to make the announcement that we will be closing our doors for rice production in this country but we have come to this point that where it is necessary to do that and thank again Belize for supporting us all these years.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

We’ll have an update on this story in our next newscast.

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7 Responses for “More bad news for rice farmers”

  1. Storm says:

    Consumers — and that’s ALL of us — do best when government stays out of the marketplace.

    No monopolies, no subsidies, no special deals for GOB friends. Just let people compete freely and FAIRLY, and we will all do better and get more bang for our buck.

    The smart and strong will survive and prosper, the others will fail.

  2. John says:

    When it comes to supporting our farmers we support our farmers.t hey grow what we need here in Belize, no questions about it, they pay more taxes, high fuel and they work hard. The corruption has to stop.

  3. maryjane says:

    well I dont no why should d minister continue hiding and telling people lies Roque well no dat he is the one o b blame he is the one that imported the rice under the name of hand to the needy and the minister gave the o a head my loving people lets get rid of all this corruption,y is BMDC d only and sole importer os onions and y Montero gave only one man to import garlic only Rene canto can import garlic now we ask y things so expense.

  4. JG says:

    dang! all our industries co;;apsing on themselves…..sugar, rice, citrus in bad shape, tourism going down….where is the money our country needs for fixing streets, building bridges (not the one from belama to faber’s road) and paying our politician’s going to come from (sarcasm)????

    all belize is doing is consuming and no production!! soon enough, EVERYTHING we need, we’ll have to import, but where is that money gonna come from? governm,ent has to support our industries….onions had a huge loss this year because of onions from holland, not rice from uruguay?? come on!!

  5. CEO says:

    Don’t they pump water from the river to flood the fields when necessary? What the hell tax is this?

    I guess will kill the gooose that lays the eggs! When you mess with farmers the country will starve! Oh! but they don’t care because there is more rice in Uraguay!

    Aniother dumb move!

  6. che guevarra says:

    This is a scheme orchestrated by the marketing board; they did it with onion now with rice. must people do not know that the board is a front for the minister of natural resources so that he ans his family can contraband and make profit: from rice, onion, sugar, log wood…. and the list goes on. Just ask who contraband the sugar to guatemala sold to the board, vega brother the one at benque, logwood, nephew has contract for logging and another nephew for exporting. time for revolution is here

  7. mylegacyb4mypeople says:

    The crooks are finding ways to fill their pockets by issuing concessions to import rice and squeeze the local growers out of the rice farming business to they can bring in their imported rice and fill their pockets with bribe money that they receive for issuing these import permits.

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