The People’s United Party (PUP) unveiled their Agriculture Policy plan on Wednesday night. Their plans indicate that a new PUP government would implement protocols to assist farmers and boost agriculture in Belize. The party’s agricultural plan is pro-agro business and pro-farmers. Jose Abelardo Mai, Area Representative for Orange Walk South detailed exactly how they plan to achieve this goal.
Jose Abelardo Mai: “First we will focus on import replacement and substitution as well as export expansion. This way we will strengthen the linkages of tourism with our local productive sectors. What are some of the specific things that will come from this ? One, areas for the production of vegetables will be expanded. Two, irrigation systems, hydroponics and greenhouse technology for high end products will be enhanced. Three, we will create incentives to increase production, quality and diversity of dairy products and grains for export. Four, we will identify ethnic products for niche markets abroad and promote exports to those markets. And five, we will establish small food tree orchards with delicious, nutritious peaches for food security and export. But this is not all we must do. For sure we will have to review the entire tax system by enacting reforms to ensure a simplified, fair , efficient, and production driven system that works for producers. For this reason we will remove GST from products that are used to produce commodities for export, on irrigation, drainage and other equipment for production and on materials and supplies used for greenhouse technology. We will reduce taxes on fuel used to produce food for local consumption and export and on spreading equipment including crop dusters. We will reduce import duties and GST on equipment and materials used on food processing, packaging and other value adding processes. A meaningful review will be done with the aim to improve our trade agreement in our region and promote the export of Belizean products. We must and will negotiate a partial scope trade agreement with Mexico which will include the exportation of livestock, beans and grains. We must find ways to reduce the burdensome tariffs if we are to achieve real fair trade. We must change from being an open import driven economy to an open export driven economy.”
Party Leader, John Briceno also made his remarks and fully supported the preliminary plan outlined.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader, People’s United Party: “For some time now we’ve been hearing that Belize can feed itself, the Caribbean and even our neighbors with grains, chicken, beef and other livestock. That we can grow enough beans and corn, provide fish and other seafood to supply markets in Mexico and Central America. It is our aim, it is our aim then to fully realize such potential. This of course will be in stark contrast to the UDP who for thirteen years stood by why onions and potatoes rot in our fields. They stood by while shrimp and fish farms buckled and they appeared indifferent as the citrus industry was reduced to a mere fraction of what it once was. They’re responsible for the abandonment and untimely end to the papaya industry. They are responsible for fragmenting the Cane Farmers Associations and their brutal policies which seem pro import and anti Belize Agriculture Production saw a drastic reduction in the agro productive sector. For the UDP it would seem that agriculture is a dirty word. No more is this true than in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic when they ignored the cries of our people to invest in our productive sector so that we can grow more for Belize and our neighbors. The plan just laid out for agriculture, our plan, is pro agrobusiness. It is pro farmers and it is for the productive sector. More significant, it came from you the people. Our consultations included a blend of farmers, farm leaders, producers and professionals and politicians. We shared our thoughts but more so we listened. What we affirmed is that Belize is bountiful, that is why we must harness, manage and produce what we have.”
The area representative from Dangriga, Louis Zabaneh focused on the citrus and other agricultural items in the South.
Dr.Louis Zabaneh: “In the south citrus, bananas, shrimp, small farming, are very important to the livelihoods of our people. The People’s United Party is committed to work with all our farmers to increase our productivity at the farm level. To improve with processing, packing and assisting with marketing of our products externally. These are the kinds of things that we need to do to restore our agriculture to it’s right place where it will be a major export earner so that we can get the returns for our families so that they can have a better quality of life. Agriculture is susceptible to storms, we just went through Hurricane Nana but despite that farmers are resilient, farmers come out everyday and work hard from early in the morning until late at night. Farmers have the spirit that we in the People’s United Party have to build, to cultivate, to create so that we can have to share for all of our people. In the People’s United Party with our efforts to improve agriculture this is part of our commitment led by the Honorable John Briceno we will come in and we will work with our people in agriculture because we believe that everybody fu win.”