Ten of the country’s vegetable cooperatives are now better equipped after the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise donated a number of post-harvest machinery. A ceremony was held this morning at the National Trade and Agriculture Show Grounds in Belmopan. The ceremony also served as the national vegetable stakeholders meeting, where the upcoming crop season’s projections were announced. Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai, says the donation will help not only the farmers in selecting the best product but also the consumers in being provided with the best quality.
Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “The Ministry of Agriculture through it’s projects is giving out to the ten cooperatives or pre cooperatives so to speak post harvest equipment because one is for them to wash the product well, to drain it well so that it dries well so it doesn’t spoil when it’s on the shelf. If you don’t dry it it spoils. And to grade. We often hear the complaint that ‘Oh the local product is of low quality.’ which I see myself and so this helps to address a part of that. If you don’t wash your product properly, don’t have the proper equipment to wash it you wash it and put it in a sack and take it to the market it spoils because of the moisture. So this equipment allows you to wash your product, to drain it properly, air dry it and it has also the second component is to sort, there’s a sorting machine there that you will sort out the small, the medium, the large fruits so that you can grade and then sell to the market so you don’t find one big potato one small one medium in the same sack. So we’re training the farmers to do that and this is how we begin. It is important to know that the farmers deserve the best in this country but so does the consumer both in quality and in price. It is unfair to sell the consumer small deteriorating cabbage at $2 a pound that is unacceptable so the farmers have to understand that if you will sell you will have to improve the quality. The tourism sector is now up and running to a certain extent and we want them to feel comfortable with what we sell them , what the farmers sell them. We can’t just throw anything at them and say ‘Hold here at this price.’ it doesn’t work like that. So our farmers have to learn that and we have to have some kind of support that they can do that and so that’s why we’re doing this today.”