Last week, the arrival of the Taiwanese president, Tsai- Ing Wen was a celebrated, national event with promises of continued investment in scholarhips, hospitals and infrastructural development. This is a new week and Belizeans are not too keen on a recent donation from Taiwan to Belize. Yesterday, Minister of Human Development, Anthony Martinez received ten thousands bags of rice which was given by Taiwan. Taiwan would expect Belizeans to be appreciative, however, controversy trumps appreciation, and one area of concern is how local rice farmers will be affected. Martinez said although it should have a positive impact, there will always be those who are adversely impacted. He went on to say that the effect on local farmers should only be short term.
Anthony Martinez, Minister of Human Development: “Of course, nobody can’t dispute that some of these products or rice wasn’t going to sell even if we didn’t get the donation which you can’t dispute but we have to deal with what is the reality. You can look around, the easiest thing is to find fault; the hardest thing is to put solution to it. Now in my humble opinion I want to say also too that I would ask the rice farmers if they have surplus to please kindly donate some to the worthy Belizean. Government as far as I know have supported the rice farmers. Remember that thing where government went out of it’s way to stop the importation of rice so that the farmers could have benefitted with their prices.”
As he mentioned yesterday when receiving the donation, Minister Martinez said most of the rice will go to non-governmental organizations that are always looking for assistance.
Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development: “Well I don’t know to what extent it will. First and foremost I will put on the record majority of the feeding programs in Belize are being run by NGO groups that don’t have funding, so they deal with donations from time to time. Some of the feeding programs, schools and at community level don’t have a budget from anywhere they run on donations so there is no guarantee that you will sell ‘x’ amount of rice for the day. Sometimes the feeding program closes down because they are not sustainable so I think it’s in my view it’s a good thing for the organization to help the people of the country. This whole hullabaloo about rice farmers being affected I have difficulty with that. Why do I have difficulty with that you know and there is no guarantee like for example there would be no guarantee to the farmer that that amount of rice would have been sold anyway because a lot of the NGO groups don’t have the money to buy it anyway.”
It is expected that the donated rice will last for a short period of time.