GOB suspends issuance of import licenses for potatoes

By Benjamin Flowers

The government of Belize has decided to suspend the issuing of import licenses for potatoes until the period for local production has ended.

The decision came after a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture and potato farmers held last Wednesday to verify potato production estimates for the incoming crop. The estimates include the Cayo district, representing the highest production with a total of 2.8 million lbs, followed by Corozal with 588,000 lbs; Orange Walk with a total of 286,000 lbs and Stann Creek producing a total 45,000 lbs.

Following the meeting, the farmers committed to implementing a grading payment system based on size, holding further consultations to determine the minimum cost of each grade; and allowing access for both wholesalers and producers to sell directly to the market.

Under the grading system “Grade A” will be assigned to large potatoes, “Grade B” to medium and “Grade C” to small potatoes.

The ministry said that it will be monitoring the potatoes until the end of the production period. The farmers called on the government to suspend the issuance of licenses to ensure that they do not lose sales due to competition from potatoes imported from Mexico.

In 2017 some farmers lost as much as 60 acres of crop, valued mover $60,000 because they could not sell their potatoes, given the market saturation with Mexican potatoes.

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