The Minister responsible for Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise was on a two day tour of Southern Belize which concluded today. Our Toledo correspondent Paul Mahung met up with him to discuss the purpose of his visit.
Paul Mahung, Toledo Correspondent: Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Minister Jose Abelardo Mai completed a two day working visit in Toledo. At the completion of his visit on Thursday and Friday Minister Jose Abelardo Mai spoke to Love News.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “We have completed a working visit as you say two days. We didn’t see everything we wanted to see because we had so many things we wanted to see but we have a good idea of what is going on in Toledo. We met with the Agriculture staff, we tried to motivate them, this is a new government we have a new policy. We also met with a group of livestock producers from Toledo. We met with the Cacao Producers Association and we met with a company that’s a turmeric factory; they’re doing excellent work buying yellow ginger from the farmers here and processing it and exporting it to Canada. That is a very impressive operation they have there. We visited a livestock producer this morning, and explained that there’s a lot of improvement to do in livestock in Toledo from what I saw. Our final stop was the Big Falls Rice Mill which is for the Belize Marketing Development Corporation. We looked at the the situation, we spoke to the famers, we have to decide what we will do with rice in Toledo. We have to decide or study the situation carefully, I will get back to my office on Monday and sit with my senior staff and advisors and we will decide how do we move with the rice industry. I want to just think off the top of my head that we’ll form a task force to go in and study the rice industry in Toledo and determine if it is feasible, if it is viable to continue producing rice in Toledo or to expand the rice production; that study has to be done by a group of technical experts along with the farmers of Toledo so that we decide where to go. We have sizable investments in the rice mill in Toledo. It’s a pity, we don’t want to throw it away but we need to be real; is it feasible or is it not ? That only a comprehensive study can determine that so I will put together a task force of course after I meet with my technical advisors and then we decide what do we do but it’s been a long two day tour, we’ve seen a lot but there’s still a lot more to see. “
Paul Mahung, Toledo Correspondent: During discussions and field visits on Thursday and Friday Minister Mai was accompanied by Chief Executive Officer Servulo Baeza, Chief Agriculture Officer Andrew Harrison, Senior Technical Advisor Digno Polanco, other Ministry of Agriculture Staff personnel, Toledo District Agriculture Coordinator JustaquioTush and Toledo East representative and Finance Economic Development and Investment Minister of State Mike Espat.