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Jan 11, 2022

Contraband Onions Affecting Local Sales… Again

The over saturation of the local market with illegally imported onions has been long standing issue for Belizean farmers, especially during harvesting. Over the weekend, one onion farmer from Cristo Rey Village in the north took to social media saying he has been unable to sell his produce because the markets are filled with contraband. News Five spoke with Minister Jose Abelardo Mai today about the Ministry’s investigation.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“I saw a post on Facebook where Mr. Che was saying they have onions that they could not market because the market is saturated with onions imported. I visited Mr. Che’s farm on Sunday, and yes he did have onions in his storage facility. He says he has been cultivating one acre, one and a half acre or something like that. What I did note was that his onions were just recently harvested, so they had to be cured. They had to be dried and cured before you market them. Nevertheless, he does have onions. Also, I took note of his comment that the market is filled with imported onions. I went to market in Orange Walk and did see some white onions, very few yellow onions, and some purple onions. Our extension officers visited all the stalls and markets to see the volume. There is indeed some white onions on the market. It is not a whole lot of onions, because we manage importation. We only import weekly consumption which is eighty five thousand pounds, because we are about to start harvesting onions. What surprised me is that looking at the numbers coming from the report there were like seven thousand pounds of purple onions on the market. But, we only gave license for eight thousand tons. It triggered me that on the twenty first we issued the last license, of December, and up to the tenth or eleventh, we still had seven thousand. So, out of eight thousand, only a thousand pounds was sold, which leads me to believe there is illegal onions on the market.”


According to Minister Mai, within hours of his visit to Mr. Che’s farm, the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation (B.M.D.C.) was able to secure a sale for those onions. Furthermore, Minister Mai noted that whatever imported onions are on the market should be absorbed in the next week, making room for local onions. Additionally, Minister Mai says, his Ministry is creating a plan to work closely with customs to detect and prevent the illegal importation of onions into Belize.

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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