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Joined: Oct 1999
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The lime crisis in Belize has now reached staggering proportions. It is not only the shortage that is affecting Belizeans but the soaring price as well. The limes, those few that are available, are becoming smaller and they are so immature that it costs an effort to get half a teaspoonful of juice out of one. And the cost of limes has climbed to an all-time high of $1.50 cents each.

As for suggestions to remedy the situation, there have been many, like setting a price control on the citrus product! Sounds good, but government only places a price control on essential commodities like flour, rice, beans sugar and similar products. Another suggestion is to give licenses to a few to import limes from Mexico. This is a great suggestion but we get from reliable sources that just across the border the price of lime is jacked up as soon as they know that they are being bought by Belizeans. They price them at one dollar per lime.

Doing a little bit of research Ambergris Today understands that there is also a lime shortage in Mexico that is affecting the United States, the number one buyer of Mexican limes. In the U.S. limes are now going at $.53 cents per lime or $1.06 Bze. One U.S. woman commented that they are so expensive, she is thinking of wearing them on a necklace rather than consuming them.

CLICK HERE for the rest of the story in the Ambergris Today

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Lime In Shortage

On hot days like we've been having recently, there's nothing more refreshing than a tall, cold glass of lime juice. But, good luck finding that nowadays because limes are scarce, and the ones you can afford are tiny and bitter. Monica Bodden went to the market today to find out why:..

Monica Bodden reporting
The price of lime has climbed to an all-time high - we were told due to the damage of crops.

Maria Cowo - Market Vendor
"Right now because of the rains the lime got scarce, so when it comes in it comes expensive, so we have to sell it at least for 75 cents for one and we buy wholesale $55 per hundred. That why we have to sell it expensive because there is no lime."

And at the local market the price of lime varies like everything else - It all depends of the size of the item.

Take for example this lime I'm holding in my hand - this size is sold for a dollar. The medium size lime next to it is sold for 75 cents. And then there is this smaller one, the size of a plum - these go for 50 cents.

Maria Cowo - Market Vendor
"Right now I have 2 for a dollar, 3 for a dollar and 75 cents for one."

This market vendor explains - on every 75 cents purchased for a lime, he makes 15 cents off it. That's roughly a 20% profit - which is pretty decent for a lime sale.

Jose Valasquez - Market Vendor
"People grumble because we sell expensive, but we buy at an expensive price. We buy for $65 per hundred limes - we have to sell for 75 cents each to make 10-15 cents from one - that's why we sell at that price. People think it's us who raise the price, but it's not that - they come expensive, we sell expensive because it is scarce."

And these Jamaican limes would normally go 8 to sometimes a dozen for a dollar - but with the shortage, it's 2 limes for the four shillings.

Maria Cowo - Market Vendor
"You see right now, you go all over the market and you can't find Jamaican limes - even if you find, they are 50 cents for one, when it was 6-7 limes per dollar."

And when it isn't scare, a dollar can get you up to 10 limes.

Jose Valasquez - Market Vendor
"When it's not scarce we sell it 8-10 per dollar. But right now because it is scarce its 75 cents for one and the small ones are 3 per dollar."

Monica Bodden
"Is this something normal? As a vender I am guessing for many years - have you seen this before lime shortage?"

Jose Valasquez - Market Vendor
"This never happen before. It didn't reach so high, but this time it is very scarce."

Channel 7

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Tonight, there are hard times in Margaritaville: skyrocketing lime prices slam restaurants and bars; crop damage and tree disease have driven costs of the green citrus to an all-time high. Reporter Maria Novelo and videojournalist Jesus Melgar take to the streets to find out if its scarcity is affecting businesses.

Maria Novelo - Reporting

It's no pulp fiction, there's a genuine shortage of lime. A mainstay of the margarita and an essential ingredient, ceviche lovers say, for their dish. You can find them, but be prepared to pay.  A bad harvest year in Belize is causing a run on limes in the country, suddenly making the fruit a precious resource for owners of restaurants and other lime-loving businesses.

Angela Lopez - Chief, Nahil Mayab Resturant

"We are not having ceviches, salpicon but at the bar we have the mix drinks because at the bar for the mix drinks we have to have it always and it is a little expensive but it a seller."

It's a bitter reality and first for Belize since it usually is a year round citrus. Vendors say it's hard to find and consumers second guess in buying them.

Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor

"Setenta y cinco por un lim�n y yo creo que por los ceviches tambi�n afecta."

Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor

"El problema aqu� en Belice es de que cada ano no hay limones, cada cuando llega estos tiempos no hay ni naranjas agrias ni limones y otras clases de frutas."

Vendors say heavy rains and a tree diseases afflicting the area has not helped.

Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor

"BAHA dio la orden  de cortar las matas porque ten�a un bichito blanco pues,  y eso no era un problema porque para eso hay una medicina, all� en El Salvador un tiempo todos los arboles como naranjas, limones as� consiguieron esa enfermedad  y la medicina de eso hace la mescla del jab�n y la ceniza y eso se le junta a la mata y se fumiga y los bichitos todo calle."

Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor

"Los limones est�n peque�itos pero cuando caiga las lluvias van abundar los limones unos dos a tres m�s meses."

The fact remains, lime lovers are being squeezed by high prices. 

International Regional Organization for plant and animal health's country Representative, Fermin Blanco, says they, along with BAHA, had conducted a citrus greening control project which is a deadly citrus disease spread by a tiny flying insect but could not confirm if the impact was one directed at the shortage of limes. It is of note that the largest World exporter of Limes, Mexico is also faced with the scarcity.

Limes are currently so precious that there have been reports of Mexican lime sellers being robbed of the fruits at gunpoint. Crime cartels have even taken a supply-side interest. Restaurateurs have responded by substituting other fruit, eliminating limes as a garnish, raising the prices of margaritas or simply not serving the popular Mexican libation.


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Citrus Psyllid

Asian Citrus Psyllid causes lime shortage in Belize

There has been a scarcity of lime at markets across the country. And the reason for that scarcity is a tiny insect called a citrus psyllid.

The invasive pest has a voracious appetite for citrus plants, particularly lime, and is responsible for the huanglongbing disease which was known previously as citrus greening.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Citrus Growers Association Henry Anderson, the shortage of lime is directly attributed to the psyllid.

Furthermore, experts believe that the disruption in the lime market in Belize by the hunglongbing disease will take at least two years to turn around.

Anderson says that lime plants that are free of the huanglongbing disease are currently available for sale at its Nursery. Persons wanting to obtain lime trees for planting can contact the Citrus Growers Association.

Citrus industry official says lime scarcity will prevail for a while.

Patrick Jones

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Lime at the local Corozal fruit market is now 3 limes to one Belize dollar. A few weeks ago this same lime sold for one Belize dollar per lime. Certainly the effects of the increased prices ultimately trickled down to the consumer.

In Belize the citrus greening has created the shortage of lime in every district. The Asian Citrus Psyllid insect is blamed for the cause of lime shortage in Belize.

This insect is considered a pest with a destructive appetite on citrus plants, especially lime, and is responsible for the citrus greening disease.

Experts have stated to the Belize media that the disruption in the lime market in Belize by the citrus greening disease may take as long as two years to improve.

This is a long wait for the turn-around in Belize as lime imports from Mexico may have more impact in Belize due to the lime squeeze in that country. Demand for Mexican lime is at a high and has cause a price gouge in that country.

CNN sources revealed last month that many farmers have been growing lime for the past twelve years and have never experienced a time of upheaval.

Lime prices in Mexico are in a spiral of hyperinflation, the national average jumping at a monthly rate of 50% this year.

Some farmers in that country are receiving even a wider margin for their produce in the State of Morelos. Many variables have been pin pointed for the skyrocketing prices.

The prime reason, however, remains as the citrus greening disease and the cold weather that had affected in some nearby states.

Another factor is the continuing violence in the state of Michoacan, a top lime producers. Vigilante groups there battling in the middle - Many growers can't or won't put trucks on the road. Mexico is the world's largest lime producer and export markets have also felt the brunt of rising costs.

U.S. based "Rosa Mexicano" is a high-end chain with 19 locations around the world. They stated that the average cost last year per box was $36 USD and last month they were paying as much as $110 USD for the same box.

Obviously, it is the consumer at the end of the day that will absorb these increased prices they noted.

Officials in the Ministry of Agriculture in that country realize the shortfall and will introduce a new method by boosting production. They will trim the branches of the lime trees and immediately apply nitrogen to induce flowering.

The flowering in October should hopefully produce limes in the months of February, March and April.

The Ministry of Agriculture in Belize should take note of this methodology.

Corozal Daily (�Sometimes)

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