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Jun 15, 2023

Agriculture Minister on Diversification of the Citrus Industry

Stann Creek West Area Representative Rodwell Ferguson and the Prime Minister have gone on record to say that citrus is a dying industry, but stakeholders in the industry, including the Citrus Growers Association, say otherwise. So today, when we caught up with the Minister of Agriculture, the media asked who’s right. Minister Jose Abelardo Mai says that truth is that the citrus industry is in serious problems and that they’ve had to evolve to juice production. Here’s how he explains it.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“The citrus industry is in problem. We will not shy away from the truth – it is in serious problem. We have made attempts to bring it back. The government through DFC has pumped ten million dollars or fifteen million dollars I think it is, into a loan fund through the DFC. But unfortunately, farmers have not taken on the loans from DFC. Very little amount of the monies available to farmers have been taken up by farmers as loans and one of the reason for that is that the price paid to the farmers, farmers believe that even if they take the loan at the price that they are being paid, they will not be able to make money and pay it back. So let’s not shy away from the truth, man. The industry is in serious problem. Now, but it is diversifying.  It cannot be considered a citrus industry anymore; it is a juice industry, moving away from only doing citrus and doing other juices. They have invested heavily on pulping machines and coconut equipment. And so to say that citrus itself is dead, probably no, but it is diversifying. It is in a very bad position – citrus. We are moving over now to doing pineapples, coconuts and even passion fruit. The plant has the ability to process and to make into juice. It is moving away from being a concentrate industry to being a juice industry.  If citrus was strong, it would have still been a concentrate plant, but it is not no more. It is doing citrus, among other juices. And the reason why the citrus industry, which used to be the citrus industry, is in a bad position is because of the disease we had and because the previous government neglected the industry for thirteen years. We had citrus greening from 2008.”

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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