The Briceno Administration has been able to secure another win for livestock farmers across the country that will see more cattle being exported to Mexico. Mexico’s equivalence of (BAHA), the SENA-SICA has granted approval for the entire country of Belize to export cattle to Mexico. The approval is a direct result of a bilateral meeting on agriculture held in Chetumal, Quintana Roo, between Belize and Mexico in July last year. Under the approval Belizean veterinarians under the Regional International Organization for Plant and Animal Health will now be able to inspect cattle under quarantine, and for BAHA to certify corrals for quarantine. According to Policy Analyst in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Milagros Matus, the trade policy will result in Belizean cattle famers earning more income.
Milagro Matus, Policy Analyst, Ministry of Agriculture: “In the past we were only able to export cattle from Orange Walk and now we’re able to export from the entire country of Belize. This is very important because as you know a couple of months ago the President of Mexico had removed the taxes on major agricultural commodities and one of them was cattle so there is an immense interest from the five thousand cattle farmers to be able to export their cattle to Mexico. At first we were just limited. Another major achievement that we brought up in that bilateral that is now being addressed is the fact that we can use OIRSA vets to substitute the Mexican vets to be able to inspect animals that are under quarantine. This is extremely important because we were paying $500 an hour for the Mexican veterinarians and now we are able to fire Belizean vets through OIRSA and the cost would be significantly lower. Even the fact that they will be close by you know within range as compared to bringing in somebody from Chetumal etc to be able to do the inspection would cost us much less. So at the end of the day the farmer will be making more in relation to the cost associated to doing this type of trade. So all this facilitation efforts at the end of the day is less cost for the farmers, less headache for the farmers and it enforces the formal trade and at the end of the day it’s cost efficient for the farmer.”
Our newsroom also asked Matus if the ministry is concerned that this agreement will drive up the price for local beef, given that farmers may be attracted by the high prices paid by Mexican companies.
Milagro Matus, Policy Analyst, Ministry of Agriculture: “It’s something that we are taking very seriously. Like in all matters we export corn, we export beans but at the end of the day we still have the product available at a reasonable price within the local market. So similar initiatives like we do in other commodities of importance for the food basket it’s the same thing we’re doing currently with livestock. Like I mentioned to you a couple weeks ago we initiated a working group to plan out exactly how is it that we are going to ensure that there is availability of local product for the local processors. So yes it’s something that we really need to look at especially in this time where food security is a major concern not only for Belize but for the entire world. So the ministry yes is working hard to ensure that there is supply not only of local cattle but of all other main food basket commodities in the local market at reasonable prices that make it affordable to the consumer.”