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Opposition Leader says Ministry of Agriculture needs to tighten up

Earlier this week we told you about the trouble farmers in San Carlos Village in southern Orange Walk are having selling their potatoes. Farmers have begun harvesting red potatoes but say that they are unable to sell their product locally because vendors still have imported white potatoes on the market. Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture have said that the last permits to import one hundred thousand pounds of potatoes were issued in early January.  They added that the imported ones should be depleted soon, allowing local potatoes to go on the market. Today, Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, criticized the ministry, saying they should have had a better handle on this issue.

Leader of the Opposition John Bricenio: “The Ministry of Agriculture has, and if they don’t have then they are being negligent in their duties, a record of all the products that are coming to market. And they should know when and how much will be available to market and as such then be able to decide whether they are going to give out permits or not. We know that a lot of politically connected UDP cronies have been getting these licenses at the box of our agricultural farmers or small farmers in the case of potatoes. I want to make it very clear that the new PUP Government policy will be that of protecting our Belizean farmers. I find this unacceptable. I demand that the Government do an investigation as to why this continues to happen to our small farmers because we need to protect our Belizean farmers at all times.”

The situation is one that farmers face annually and with other agricultural produce such as carrots and onions. /////