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Feb 13, 2019

Jose Mai Takes Ministry of Agriculture to Task over Potato Bumper Crop

On Tuesday, Chief Agriculture Officer Andrew Harrison issued a press release explaining the potato planting season for 2018/2019.  According to the government representative, the Ministry of Agriculture met with potato producers from across the country, including farmers in the north, to present projections for the 2019 potato crop.  It expected that as many as three point five million pounds of potatoes will be harvested this season which Orange Walk South Area Representative Jose Abelardo Mai, an agronomist, says is a glut.  He contends that there was no technical advice given to farmers ahead of the season and all indications are that there insufficient storage space to stow the bumper crop.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Area Rep., Orange Walk South

“Potatoes never reach their full maturity in Belize, very few occasions because it’s a temperate crop, it comes down with the blights.  If it’s raining then they get infected with different diseases, so harvesting has to be accelerated.  But seven to ten days is not much, it’s something that could have been expected seven to ten days before or seven to ten days after.  What I will tell you, that from the amount of potatoes planted which is in this press release, three hundred and forty-eight acres, three point five-seven million pounds of potatoes, consuming a hundred thousand pounds per week, we’ll have potatoes for eight point nine months of the year.  When you know that the nature, because of the nature of potatoes, high in starch, carbohydrates, you cannot store for more than three months.  So again, I will lay the blame where it has to be.  The coordination of production was horribly done.  The importation of seeds is monitored and controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture, BAHA included.  So while you cannot stop anybody from planting potatoes, but you can guide the farmer.  Why would you allow farmers to plant three hundred and forty-eight acres of potatoes when you know that we have limited storage capacity?”

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