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Import licenses for potatoes put on pause

The approval of import licenses for potatoes has been put on pause by the Ministry of Agriculture. This decision was made during a meeting that Ministry officials held with potato producers and importers yesterday in Belmopan. The meeting came after potatoes farmers expressed concern that they might have challenges selling their thousands of pounds of potatoes as experienced in the past due to the excess amount of import permits issued.  During the meeting, stakeholders discussed potato production figures and estimated harvest dates.The estimated production for this year is three point seven million pounds, with harvest dates starting in the first week of February. Farmers in the Cayo District have produced the highest amount of two point eight million pounds of potatoes. Corozal farmers have produced five hundred and eighty eight thousand pounds while in the Orange Walk District, farmers have produced two hundred and eighty six thousand pounds. The lowest production of potatoes is recorded in the Stann Creek District with a total of forty five thousand pounds. At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that a grading payment system, based on size of the potato, will be implemented. Grade A will be assigned to large potatoes, Grade B to Medium and Grade C to Small. Further discussions are expected to occur to determine the minimum cost of each Grade. It was also agreed that both wholesalers and producers will be able to sell directly to the market. According to the Ministry, no more import license will be issued until the local production of potatoes is depleted.