01 January, 1999 - Belmopan
Official ceremonies were held on Wednesday, May 24, 2000 in San Ignacio
to mark the handing over of the processing assets of the Macal Dairy
Farmers Association to Cayo Tropical Fruits (Big H).
Present for the occasion were the Hon. Daniel Silva, Minister of
Agriculture, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Hon. Ainslie Leslie, Area
Representative for Cayo North, Mayor of San Ignacio, Mr. Orlando Habet,
His Excellency, Ambassador Charles Tsai of the Republic of Taiwan and
other invited guests.
The Macal Dairy processing plant had been undergoing serious financial
difficulties resulting in heavy losses to the Cooperative. In an attempt
to salvage the operation and build on the Dairy Industry in Belize the
Hon. Daniel Silva served as a facilitator between The Macal Cooperative
and the Big H group.
Under the agreement Big H will absorb the losses and debts of the
cooperative while taking over the processing facility of the
Cooperative. Big H has further guaranteed the producers of the
Cooperative attractive prices for all the milk they can produce.
Belize currently imports between 17 to 20 million dollars worth of dairy
products each year in comparison to a mere 2 to 3 million dollars
produced locally. Richard Harrison of Big H says that the company will
begin with four categories of cheese already on the Belizean market as
well as with fresh yogurt.
These products will be marketed under the brand name "Mamita's Milk". He
further adds that Big H will encourage farmers to produce much more than
they currently do to make the operation viable as well as to create more
jobs for Belizeans.
Cooperative Chairman, Mr. Rudy Juan says he is excited about the merger
as cooperative members will now have more time to dedicate to improving
dairy stocks to service a guaranteed market.
The Hon. Daniel Silva, for his part said that his Ministry fully
supports the initiative and will work hand in hand with the Cooperative
and Big H to build on this local industry. He commented that he is
pleased that some Belizean products are now able to compete in both
price and quality with foreign competition.
The Minister also thanked the Ambassador and the people of Taiwan for
the assistance they will provide in this venture and their tremendous
support for Belize's Agricultural sector.