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Dec 15, 2011

Toledo rice growers irate over delayed payment

Dennis Usher

In the past month we have reported on turmoil within the rice industry in the north.  The soaring cost of local production and the lack of demand on the domestic market have driven several producers, including Uncle John’s Rice, to close their doors permanently.  But while grain growers in Blue Creek are suffering from poor sales, their counterparts in Toledo are tonight up in arms over empty promises by the Ministry of Agriculture.  On November twenty-ninth a Cabinet release outlined scheduled payments which farmers were to receive from the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation over a four-week period.  They were initially paid forty thousand dollars, followed by two hundred thousand dollars and a final payment of a hundred thousand today.  Much to their dismay over a thousand five hundred farmers belonging to the Toledo Rice, Beans & Corn Production Association were not compensated as promised prompting them to take to the streets of Punta Gorda Town.  News Five spoke by phone today with Chairman Dennis Usher.

Via Phone: Dennis Usher, Chairman, Toledo Rice, Beans, Corn Production Association

“I’m representing over 1,500 registered farmers that are members of the association. In fact representing all the farmers down south that are in the rice business; bean and corn business right now. We were promised by the government that full payment would have been made by the fifteenth of December. There was a Taiwanese COD where I posed the question there. I made it clear that development is the government and the people working together. That the government should create the enabled environment for development and also assist in the farmers in locating the finances for the development. I made it clear that the farmers down south are doing their part; we’re not begging for any food stamps, anything. We the farmers are working and all we need is the payment. We were promised at the meeting there by Mister Canto and I made it clear in my speech; I said if you think I am not listening, I will remind you. And what transpired there is that he responded and said that you can get half of the payments now and half next week or you all can wait and get your full payments by the fifteenth of December because we know that unu farmers need unu money for Christmas. I had invited some of the farmers out there; so there were quite a bit of farmers out there to listen carefully so that they can fully understand that it is not the chairman doing things on his own—I try to get a lot of farmers involved in whatever I do to be transparent and to be opened and to also be accountable. And the commitment was made that by the fifteenth, all farmers would have been paid in full. Now as I am talking to you here, this is way up in the evening, there was over a hundred farmers there and it was getting very heated—the farmers were not able to collect their finances. Late I think there was just a meager fifty thousand dollars that was riddled down so as to appease some of the farmers who were really upset and disgruntled. But so far, the promise that was made by the government is a failure once more again and as I said it doesn’t go down well with the farmers—the farmers will not forget. You promise the farmer over and over and at the end of the day, you do not fulfill your promise. It is not good for a government to be doing that to its people.”

Of the hundred thousand dollars that was to be paid to the farmers today, only fifty percent was paid.

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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2 Responses for “Toledo rice growers irate over delayed payment”

  1. mustard says:

    whay does this not surpises us?? The GOB is not doing anyting aobut inerest rates, paying their debts but still driving big rides, those farmers need their money..

  2. dunfedup says:

    this is exactly what happens when the BMDC sells their rice for sixty cents a pound to the wholesalers when they should be selling for close to a dollar. shame, shame on montero and his posse of yes men and the cabinet for backing it up. consumers never benefit one penny. shame shame!

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