One of the voices speaking out against the Taiwanese rice is area representative for Orange Walk South, Jose Mai.
Jose Mai Area Representative Orange Walk South: “There is cost to it; as a matter of fact I think he mentioned that the value of that rice is $125,000 US. That is $250,000 Belize dollars; when you calculate the amount that they donated I think I came up with a figure at like 96 cents per pound. Now you can get rice from our farmers at maybe 87 to 89 cents per pound wholesale so that rice landed here even more expensive than what you would have payed for it at our farmers. Every pound of rice imported displaces a pound of rice locally produced. A pound of rice that pays taxes, that employs people, that creates employment and income to families so $240,000 Belize dollars takes farmers along way today especially in a situation where the country is in right now.”
Mai said over the years local farmers have contributed greatly to the government and by extension, the country.
Jose Mai Area Representative Orange Walk South: “Well the news was on last night I got about three calls from farmers in the North very much concerned about what was happening. That is how I start doing some research and found out what the situation is. They were the first to bring it to my attention. Then I look at the news and say oh my gosh this is out of order.”
Mai went on to say that the Government should have rejected the donation from Taiwan.
Jose Mai Area Representative Orange Walk South: “Everything has to be considered here: First you don’t operate haphazardly. Two that means that anybody that donates something to you at the expense of the farmers; the farmers end up suffering so you have to not because they give you something you have to take it you know. You have to weigh what are you options. What are the consequences of this. Now this won’t leave any farmer broke on the street but we are setting the wrong precedence. This is not how you operate as a government. You have to act responsibly; every action has a reaction. Now this cannot continue and this the fear of the farmers of this country.”
He agreed with Minister Martinez that the rice will be on the market for less than a week.