Rice producers in Toledo are concerned about the payment and purchase price of rice paddy sold to the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation.
Paul Mahung reporting...
“Rice producers in Toledo are concerned about the payment and purchase price of rice paddy sold to the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation. The concerned rice producers are members of the Toledo Rice, Beans and Corn Producers Association as explained by its chairman Dennis Usher. Dennis Usher – Chairman, Toledo Rice, Beans and Corn Producers Association “Farmers have been contacting me for the past few weeks by the hundreds and they are very much concerned this year of the price of rice and the payment. I have learnt by the Manager of the Big Falls Marketing Board that the price of rice will now be from 27 cents to 33 cents per pound. Now I have gotten nothing officially from the Ministry or BMDC, however I would say it has been confirmed that is the price that will be paid. I understand that there was a meeting held in Belmopan, I guess it was September 19th by General Manager, you had Mr. Roque Mai and Mr. Bardalez, Manager of Big Falls Marketing Board and the Minister of Agriculture and that is when they came up with that. I was not invited to that meeting so I have no information to share with the farmers but I am saying it is a deep concern because if I can remember on December 3rd that was not the discussion with the Minister. I think he went public back then and we have the records to show, that the price he mentioned was going to be 30, 33 and 39 and I want to categorically say that I have been visiting the farms over the past few weeks and farmers have improved dramatically this year, the quality of rice is excellent. However there are a few problems and I want to make it very clear and it is based on the program, while the program was set by the Agriculture department it was interrupted and henceforth some fields that were excellent were set back and some fields that I think were not proper to be cut, those were cut and that was very unfortunate because the problem lies when those bad fields are dumped and mixed with the good rice, that is the problem and like I said the Association we find the problem, we are documenting those problems and we want to make it very clear.”
Usher also commented that there is a need for communication between relevant Government authorities and the rice producers.
Dennis Usher – Chairman, Toledo Rice, Beans and Corn Producers Association
“I am saying there is a need for dialogue, the farmers are pressing and the Association stands firm and strong along with its membership. The farmers are concerned, we from the Association are concerned about this situation and we would like for the Minister of Agriculture to see how he can deal with this problem. As I said there is no dialogue back and forth, we have not gotten anything official as yet and the farmers keep on coming. I have sent a letter to the Prime Minister based on this issue.”
While the issue of payment and purchase price of rice paddy remains a concern, Rice producers in Toledo continue with the harvesting, delivering and sale of rice paddies to the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation Mill in Big Falls, Toledo.