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Feb 9, 2012

Opposition meets with Rice Farmers in the South

Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca met with rice farmers in the south on Wednesday to discuss a way forward for the struggling industry in the Toledo District.  The sit-down, according to Dennis Usher, Chairman of the Toledo Rice, Beans, Corn Producers Association, came after months of failed attempts to engage the Barrow Administration in addressing the urgent needs of grain growers across the district.  Among the commitments made was a schedule for timely payments to be disbursed to farmers.  In turn, Usher says, the association, comprised of a thousand, five hundred farmers is prepared to throw their support behind the standard-bearers in both constituencies in Toledo.

Via Phone: Dennis Usher, Chairman, Toledo Rice, Beans, Corn Production Assn.

Dennis Usher

“We met with the leader of the opposition, the Honorable Francis Fonseca, and both standard bearers for the P.U.P.—Toledo East and Toledo West. And this meeting was supposed to take place from some months ago. It was my intention to meet with the government first to hear if they would have supported the rice farmers down south. And therefore, I have tried to get in touch with them for the past eight months and when I did get an audience with them, it was only Mister Coy who did show up and Minister Eden Martinez still did not show up at that time and I was not very pleased with it. We have been trying to get in touch with them for some time as I mentioned. I called them on their phones, it is clear they cut off their phones; I write them letters and they do not respond to them. I have spent three days—up and down—I was told to come back, come back to Mister Eden’s office and still at the end I did not get to see him. It was clear that it was based on the discussions representing the farmers of the south and that it was nothing personal. I still could not get in contact with him. So we went ahead and we met with the government side and as I said we did meet with them. So it was our time to meet with the opposition and the honorable Francis Fonseca and there were four points that were put to him by the Toledo Rice, Beans and Corn Production Association representing its fifteen hundred members strong. And the points that were put before him were the same that were put before the government and we did not get the support. All that was told to us was the Minister Coy said that the government is broke; the prime minister was upset that he couldn’t get the finances that was promised—the five million dollars each per municipality that would have prompt them to win the town board and then trump them to win the general elections—those funds were not forthcoming and therefore he was upset and didn’t meet a few weeks ago with the world bank. I made it clear that I was not interested in that. I was interested in getting the commitment to pay the farmers to fix the farm roads that have been neglected for the past four years and for us to be able to let the industry survive. So I made it clear at that meeting that I was not interested in their personal economic problems that I believe was created because of whatever policies that has been put forward.”

Also present at the meeting were representatives from the Maya Leaders Alliance, an organization that is crucial to the indigenous community in Toledo.

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  1. maryjane says:

    I wonder y they cant pay the farmers when BMDC is collecting so much money from the poor importers of fruits and vegetables they collect 5 cent per lbs of potatoes cabbage carrot and lettuce on a monthly basis BMDC collect about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars where is that money going who is enjoying BMDC should not have any bills and be able to pay

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