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Feb 27, 2023

New Dairy Strategy Introduced to Improve the Dairy Industry in Belize

Belize has been producing milk and dairy products for decades now, but there’s never been a document that guides how the dairy industry can grow or become more productive, or even more competitive with other countries – that is until now. This afternoon, the Minister of Agriculture, Jose Mai and the Belize Dairy Association signed and introduced the National Dairy Strategy 2022 – 2026. News Five’s Marion Ali was there for the signing in Belmopan and filed this report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The National Dairy Strategy 2022 – 2026 document looks at various aspects of dairy processing in Belize. Minister of Agriculture, Jose Abelardo Mai shared with News Five what the document aims for.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“The dairy strategy will focus on a number of things, one of them is how to make the sector more productive; how to make it more competitive. It will address the processing and marketing components of the industry. As you know, we are now doing, U.H.T milk. The industry is growing, but we now also want to start to export to the CARICOM. There are some little constraints that we are being faced with right now. One of them is the constraint that all subsectors, all sectors are facing, which is the high cost of production, the high cost of inputs. And so this strategy deals with that. It deals with how to enhance the quality of the product. It deals with how you market the product in the region.”


But getting to this point was no easy feat, as Chairman of the Belize Dairy Association, Ernie Thiessen shared.


Ernie Thiessen

Ernie Thiessen, Chairman, Belize Dairy Association

“We can actually see some of the fruits of our work. There has been a lot of drafting of the strategic plan, a lot of work has been establishing the Dairy Association where the Dairy Association is working to provide database, reliable database for the Ministry of Agriculture, for trade concerning if we producing enough or not enough for the country consumption. With the help of Hugh O’Brien and Belarmino, we have been very successful to come up with a – I should say, a both-sided agreement, or a possibility of growth plan for the industry where we actually can look at and we can say we have achieved some of the things already since it’s been more than a year that we have started with all this. Some of the implementation that we have in there is already done, so we already see some of the fruits that we were looking at to achieve over the years to come.”


While Belize tries to get its locally-produced milk on the regional market, we also must look at the milk that we import. Minister Mai said that in order for there to be fair trade, there must be a more leveled playing field.


Jose Abelardo Mai

“Here we are importing a subsidized product, not charging import duty on it. Just paying G.S.T and then bring it into the country and it’s competing with your product, which in the past you had to import – well you still to import all the packaging and processing equipment. It was paying G.S.T, it was paying import duty. So you have a subsidized product coming in, paying no duty, competing with a product that you’re producing that pays all the duties. So it was definitely wrong. We are moving towards, and this yet has to go to Cabinet for approval, we are proposing that we have to start now to charge a duty on imported milk or import dairy products because it’s competing with the local product.”


By charging an import duty on the imported product, it leaves the consumer the choice to choose local verses imported milk.


Marion Ali for News Five.

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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