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Jul 4, 2019

BAHA Confirms Contraband Onions on Belizean Market

On Wednesday night, we told you the story of the largest onion producer in the Belize District. The Orellana family produces upwards of one hundred thousand pounds of onion annually, but this year, they found themselves competing with contraband onions on the market. And because the contraband produce is going for a cheaper price, local farmers are not selling their onions. There is a surplus of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds of onion on the local market because the Orellanas in Maskall, as well as farmers in Little Belize, Neuland and San Carlos in the north have not been able to get their onions off their hands. Today we spoke with the Technical Director of Quarantine at BAHA, who shared that indeed the market is saturated with contraband onions. Margarito Garcia says that his team has confiscated sizeable quantities of the onions for which there are no import licenses.


Margarito Garcia

Magarito Garcia, Technical Director of Quarantine, BAHA

“We work closely with our parent Ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture and they are the ones that give us the information on what is available and not available. They control as to how much – to protect the farmers – the quantities that are issued. For the past months now we have not been issuing any import permit to bring any onions at all. So, right now if you find any white onions, purple onions, or any other types of onions other than the yellow local onions that we have, it is illegally imported. And that is why we are trying to control it as much as possible so that the farmers can sell all their products. It is true that the contraband is a challenge and we are working every week with our staff to try to intercept as much as possible and dispose of it properly.”


Andrea Polanco

“Has BAHA come across any of these contraband onions on the market in recent weeks?”


Magarito Garcia

“Oh yes, almost every day, especially in the north. We have an officer attached to the customs and to the police and every day they are intercepting onions. We cannot intercept everything because we know that due to the technology now it is hard, check points don’t work so we have to have intelligence which we depend highly on to intercept these commodities.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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