Toledo and rice production have a long and not so glorious history. Over the years, rice production has waxed and waned in that district - not because of poor soil, but the more likely culprit has been poor organization and poor quality control.
But the Taiwan Technical Mission which has been in Belize since 1991 is undaunted. In December of 2008, they re-started the rice seed production project. A total of 20 acres of commercial rice seed have been planted for supplying the rice farmers in the Toledo District.
It's at the Poppy Show Farm in the Elridgeville area of the Toledo District, where in 2009, the overall production of commercial rice seed was 87,210 pounds. This seed was to be planted for the extension of 850 acres of rice production for 38 farmers in the Toledo District.
At an open day to celebrate the donation of half a million dollars of new equipment and the relative success of this programme on Friday, CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Trade Alexis Rosado said Belize has the advantage of preferential quotas - it's just that they are not being filled,
Alexis Rosado, CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Trade
"We have an agreement with the European Union, the biggest market in the world, the richest market in the world. They provide us duty free and quota free access to just about everything that Belize can produce. The problem is not so much that we don't have opportunities to sell our products. The problem seems to me that it is us who don't take advantage of those opportunities to sell our products. Today we have the partial scope agreement with Guatemala. We heard earlier that there are tremendous market opportunities as well, its much closer to home. We have advantages that they don't have. If we are able to adapt their technologies, the latest technologies and this is what the Taiwanese Mission here is trying to do. To help us learn all the technologies and the know how so that we may be able to stand on our feet next to our competitors and still be able to be more attractive that their product is."
The equipment includes a tractor, a combine, 2 power tiller cultivators, 3 blowing machines, 3 mist blowers, 3 high pressure sprayers, 4 driers, etc
According to an official release form the Taiwan mission, 160,000 pounds of commercial rice seed will be produced this year in Toledo. That pales in comparison to 2011 when the Technical Mission estimates that it will produce 440,000 pounds of commercial rice seed, which can supply 4,400 acres of rice field production, and is estimated to produce 13.2 million pounds of paddy rice. The profit from that paddy rice is estimated at $4.6 million dollars.