There is a report tonight that a license has been issued for the importation of a huge amount of poultry. It has the Belize Poultry Association up in arms because of the health risks involved in the importation of the poultry from Mexico. The license was issued by the Belize Agricultural Health Authority to a producer in Shipyard, Orange Walk. But according to BPA chairman, Jake Rempel, ten thousand broiler chicks were imported from Mexico, without proper inspection and risk analysis. Rempel says that is a major concern since Mexico has several prevalent poultry diseases, including different strains of Newcastle disease. The BPA feels that BAHA has undermined its investments in poultry disease surveillance as well as a memorandum of understanding signed between the two bodies for collaborative work.

Via Phone: Jake Rempel, Chairman, Belize Poultry Association

“To our understanding it hasn’t gone the correct way because the guys from BAHA, which would do the inspections weren’t informed about it. As far as we can see, it was illegally done and the surveillance program, which usually is mandatory wasn’t done and that is our concern. Our main concern is disease; it’s not a big issue that ten thousand chickens were imported, the issue is… were they clean? The BPA would think that Mexico wouldn’t be a clean country disease-wise where they come from and I couldn’t give you the names of all the diseases but including avian influenza, which Mexico does have and it came as far as Campeche, which is close to where these chickens came from. So that would be our main issue where we would be afraid of disease-wise. The BPA has been fighting diseases in Belize; we have our own diseases which we are fighting which the BPA is spending a lot of money on. We’re also financing the BAHA group in certain areas where they help us with containing diseases and also doing surveillance to find out what we do have and where are clean so that we can stay clean. That’s our main concern, disease, and it shouldn’t have happened like that overnight. We had a meeting with BAHA to see how many permits they did give and we were informed by BAHA that they only gave one permit for twenty thousand chicks but the importer hadn’t gotten the twenty, he only got ten. But that permit is expired if he imports, whatever he does import that expires the permit and BAHA didn’t give him another one. We have the understanding that he has asked for two, but BAHA only gave him one. We had a meeting with BAHA and we hope this isn’t gonna happen again because we are trying to keep our country free of disease and calling our products clean whereas we couldn’t do that when it’s imported.”

Delahnie Bain

“This importation, are we under producing? Why was it necessary?”

Via Phone: Jake Rempel

“Yeah, I wouldn’t want to talk too much on the television about this but we have some diseases in country which can be controlled with vaccinations and so on. He claims that he got some of those and he wasn’t happy, he was looking for a better way of chickens. The way see it, it’s a much bigger risk where he got it from than from here. The only reason we can come up with is that he thought he would try something better.”

Delahnie Bain

“Okay, so it’s just one company that wanted this import.”

Via Phone: Jake Rempel

“That’s right.”

The BPA has also met with the mayors of Shipyard, Spanish Lookout and Blue Creek to discuss the importation and prevention of a repeat.

Channel 5