And while that is imminent this year, Mai says that there may be a possible solution. While he admits it may come with challenges, he says government should look into exporting Belizean grown red potatoes into Mexico.
Jose Mai: “We have imported potatoes for 50 years from Mexico. We have exported nothing to them. The last trip I was in Mexico speaking to my friends and colleagues there, they would love red potatoes but Mexico does not grow red potatoes. Thinking outside the box why don’t we put the Marketing Development Corporation to work; they are a marketing agency. There are only three suppliers of potatoes to Belize, they live in Chetumal. Why can’t we approach them and say to them we have bought potatoes from you for 50 years why can’t you buy from us for two months. Why? Isn’t trade supposed to be reciprocal ? There is always a time to begin somewhere, start negotiating. I can tell you what the response is from the Mexicans: first you don’t have a trade agreement with Mexico and by such you are bound to pay a tariff of 100 and something percent, two your cost are to high, three you have to do a pest risk analysis. Do you think that they will give us the treatment that we gave them when we wanted to import limes, do you remember? One year ago Jules when the Government Marketing Board imported limes and the pest risk analysis was done at a BAHA office in a computer lab. Do you think they will allow us to do that now? It is to show you the Ministry of Agriculture is defunct in all aspects. You cannot separate as the CO said BAHA and Ministry.”
Presently, potatoes are farmed locally in Corozal, Orange Walk, Stann Creek and Cayo, with the bulk coming from Cayo farmers.///