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May 25, 2022

Agriculture Minister discusses recent trip to the Guyana

Jose Abelardo Mai,

Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai says Belize is prepared to expand its agro trade with CARICOM member states when the leaders of those nations take greater action on their commitments towards a single market economy. While Belize exports a number of products to CARICOM, Minister Mai says the country has the capacity to play a greater role in reducing the region’s food bill. But, there are challenges to this end, including the cost of shipping from Belize, as well as alleged unethical trade practices within the region. Minister Mai recently returned from Guyana where he and a delegation led by Prime Minister John Briceño  attended the CARICOM Agro-Investment Forum. Here is what he told us about boosting Belize’s exports into CARICOM during his appearance on Open Your Eyes.


Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security

“I have been very bold enough to say and I maintain that position and many Cabinet members and those who are involved in the trade business find it extremely challenging to establish good trade relations within the CARICOM countries. One is that the trade ethics is not what is expected. Two, the cost are excessively high, especially in the last year. Ocean freight has gone up by three hundred percent in some instances. And three, logistically, it is a nightmare trying to find a vessel that leads directly from Belize to Jamaica and Trinidad, the biggest islands. It is not an easy task. There exist no vessel, no shipping line that goes there. It has to go through Miami and then down back to the Atlantic. This is a nightmare for us, in particular Belize. Belize at this moment is the bread basket of the CARICOM. There is only two CARICOM countries that has that ability to produce food so that we can trade. One is Belize and Guyana that has the surface area to expand agriculture. I will be honest with you, all the speeches were beautiful. They were lovely speeches and I am always impressed with the speeches of CARICOM Heads of State. It is left to put it into practice. When they put it into practice we are prepared to trade with them. We have a hundred and eighty containers of red kidney beans that immediately after the Agric show we have to start to get moving.”

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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