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Sep 11, 2020

PUP Unveils Agriculture Policy

The People’s United Party has unveiled its plan for the agricultural sector seeking to strengthen existing industries and boost local production by stopping the importation of produce that is grown in Belizean soil. The P.U.P.’s vision encourages farmers to grow more of what is consumed by families so that local produce goes from the farm to tables across the country. The party is also committing to remove and reduce taxes from products that are used in the production of commodities for exports, and this includes fuel. Here is Hipolito Novelo with a report.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

As part of the Plan Belize Campaign, the People’s United Party on Wednesday unveiled its agriculture plan if they were to form the next government.

 

The PUP plans to put more emphasis and focus, on the agro-productive sector. PUP Leader John Briceño says that the current UDP government had placed all their eggs in the tourism basket, leaving the economy defenseless in a time of crisis.

 

John Briceño, Leader, P.U.P.

John Briceño

“The People’s United Party feels strongly that for this country to develop we have to put a lot  more emphasis, work and attention to the agriculture sector.  The past government put all of their eggs in the tourism basket. The pandemic hit us in March and the tourism industry disappeared, almost forty percent of GDP like magic, gone. We can’t do that. We are not saying we are not going to give importance to the tourism industry. We are going to continue to work with them, continue to rebuild.”

 

The PUP’s agriculture policy has two aspects. The first deals with the prohibition of importation of locally grown produce such as tomatoes, potatoes and onions- consuming what is grown locally and encouraging farmers to grow more of what we eat.

 

Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Area Rep., OW South

“We will focus on import replacement and substitution as well as export expansion. This way we will strengthen the linkages of tourism with our local productive sectors. What are some the specific things that will come from this? One, areas for the production of vegetables will be expanded. Two, irrigation systems, hydroponics an green house technology for high end products will be enhance. Three, we will create incentives to increase production, quality, and diversity of dairy products and grains for export. Four, we will identify ethnic products for niche markets abroad and promote exports to those markets and five we will establish small fruit tree orchards with delicious, nutritious species for food security and export.”

 

But this plan has to work for all level of producers. The economics behind this plan must be carefully studied before changes are implemented. The PUP shadow minster for agriculture, Jose Abelardo Mai says that taxes will be removed and reduced.

 

Jose Abelardo Mai

“We will remove GST for products that are used to produce commodity for exports, irrigation, drainage, and other equipment for production and on material and supplies used for greenhouse technology. We will reduce taxes on fuel used to produce food for local consumption and export and on spraying equipment including crop dusters. We will reduce import duties and GST on equipment and materials used in food processing, packaging and other value added processes.”

 

P.U.P. Leader John Briceno says the party’s plan “from the farm to the table’ is by and for the people.

 

John Briceño

“It is made with the rich ingredients of hope and love. It comes as we grapple with the COVD-19 reality and it is progressive. The Belizean people will grow more vegetables, more onions, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, chaya lettuce and callaloo. The Belizean people will improve the quality of milk, cheese, ice cream and yogurt. The Belizean people will process more grains, rice, corn, soybeans, beans, black eye beans and sorghum. The Belizean people will grow for export hot peppers, pumpkins frozen fruits, coconut water, plantains, coco yam, cassava, roots and tubers and we will return to exporting papayas again.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


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