The Agriculture ministry has had their hands full recently, first with the sugar industry and more recently with the carrot farmers. Carrot farmers in the northern districts have been experiencing losses due to what appears to be a surplus of carrots in the markets. With the local farmers putting theirs out on the market and the Government allowing the importation of the vegetable and the contrabandists bringing in their share from across the borders, it does put our local farmers at a disadvantage. Last week the Chief Agricultural Officer, Roberto Harrison told Love News that it is a situation that they are monitoring and seeking ways to address. Majority of carrot farmers are in the Orange Walk South division and according to their representative, Jose Abelardo Mai, there is much more that Government can do but this is a political matter.
JOSE ABELARDO MAI
“From past experience the Ministry has always said that they will do something. With the drought what did they say? They went out and made an assessment and they said $30 million was lost and that they are going to do something, what did they really do? Nothing at all. What they may have done was get a GST waiver which I had already been getting from my good friend Financial Secretary Joe Waight. So it’s nothing new that was done there and in regards to the carrots it’s not the first time it’s happening, we’ve seen it with onions, potatoes, carrots now and it’s on going. It’s a political issue, one of the few persons that has import permits for fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico is a very strong supporter of Gaspar Vega, he receives these permits and just makes them available to his colleagues. It is so little, it’s only 6 acres, at 16,000 pounds per acre that is a little. They give permits in advance, they give it today but it expires in 15 days’ time. If they know that the carrots are going to be harvested in two weeks’ time then just cut down the amount of days that you give on the permits. So it’s easy to be done it’s just a matter of them doing it at the will that is all.”
Last week, Chief Agricultural Officer Harrison also told Love News that there is an added disadvantage to the carrot farmers in the north as they also have farmers in the Cayo District and they too have begun harvesting their crop. An oversupply of a product can either cause the price of the product to decrease or have consumers cut down on their purchases.