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Potato Farmers Searching For a Market #534750
02/06/19 06:00 AM
02/06/19 06:00 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 61,694
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

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Marty  Online Happy OP

Amidst Mexican Supply

The farmers of San Carlos Orange Walk are ready to harvest their potatoes this season - but they are worried that they won't have a market to sell them to. It's an annual anxiety, because Mexican potatoes dominate the supply - and consumers have gotten used to that product - which is still on the local market right now. Today, two of the farmers said their potatoes are better, and they are under pressure to sell them:...

Israel Hernandez, Potato Farmer
"The harvest for local potatoes just start, but some people from Cayo came to see the potato in Belize City. When I can't sell, I have to drop the price cheaper. These potatoes look good. Yesterday a Chinese man wanted to buy potatoes, the man ask what kind of potatoes are these. I tell him its local. He said he doesn't want those, he wanted Mexican ones. When the importers bring the potatoes from Mexico they bring mixed potatoes and the people doesn't complain about that."

Danny Hernandez, Potato Farmer
"The field is almost ready and I can't sell it. If I see the tree is dying, I have to harvest, but I don't have business for that and if I have to harvest all, I have to take it to my home and if I leave it for a long time they will spoil. I have to pay the bank, the Mennonite and everything and it's very sad for me because it's a lot of money that I spend there."

Channel 7

Local Potato Producers Fear Losing Revenue to Imported Mexican Potatoes

Tonight there is growing concern among farmers in San Carlos Village, Orange Walk. Potato farmers are worried that their investment and weeks of hard work will be all for naught because they are unable to sell their products in the local market. Currently, there is a surplus of imported white potatoes from Mexico in the market, making it difficult for local farmers to sell their product. In January, farmers met with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture who told them that the issuance of licenses for the importation of white potato will no longer be allowed. Today, however, white potatoes can still be found in the local market and it has farmers frustrated.  News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Twenty-eight-year-old Danny Hernandez has been a farmer for about ten years. Today, we found him at his potato farm in San Carlos Village, Orange Walk. He allocated two point five acres of land for the planting and harvesting of local red potatoes. Hernandez says he has invested eight thousand dollars in his farm which is expected to yield more than twenty thousand pounds of potatoes. But today, Hernandez is worrying that he might not have the opportunity to make a profit from his back-breaking work.

Danny Hernandez, Farmer, San Carlos Village

“I spend a lot of money and I have a lot of things to pay. I have to pay the bank. I have to pay the Mennonite. It is very sad for me because it is a lot of money that I spent here. This one they get bigger. They have fifteen days more and they get bigger, like one pound. If I harvest right now I will have a problem because there are a lot of potatoes right now. By the time they get ready, I have to harvest and I will not have any sale for that.”

The farmers are growing concerned that with the local market saturated with imported white potato from Mexico, that there is no space for them to sell their red potatoes. Israel Hernandez traveled to Belize City with twenty sacks of red potatoes on Monday. He managed to sell twelve sacks at ninety cents per pound at one hundred pounds per sack.

Israel Hernandez, Farmer, San Carlos Village

“Yesterday I couldn’t sell all because it is too much.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Are the imported potatoes from Mexico better than this?”

Israel Hernandez

“Never because these potatoes look good. Yesterday went I went to the Chinese and I asked if they want to buy potatoes. The Chinese man asked me what kind of potatoes I am selling. I told him the local one and he said he doesn’t want it because I want the Mexican one.”

Efrain Corado grew up farming. He is currently harvesting four acres of the red potato. He is expecting to yield about forty-thousand pounds at an investment of over a thousand dollars. Corado has his workers storing the potatoes in a bodega until the market is able to accept his produce. But the time frame in which the potatoes can be stored without going rotten is limited.

Efrain Corado, Farmer, San Carlos Village

“Until there is a business because right now there is no business which is why we are storing them in the bodega.”

Reporter

“How long can the potatoes be stored until there begin to spoil?”

Efrain Corado

“Maybe one or two months.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Why do you say that there is no business?”

Efrain Corado

“Because yesterday we took some to Belize and we barely managed to sell twelve sacks of a hundred pounds.”

Hipolito Novelo

“What did the persons who buy the potatoes tell you as to why they are not buying the potatoes?”

Efrain Corado

“Because there are still Mexicans and there is no business for the locals as yet.”

Jose Abelardo Mai, Area Representative, Orange Walk South

“Here in San Carlos, the probably expected harvest is almost half a million pounds of potatoes. If you divide by sixty-thousand pounds minimum you are talking about eight weeks of potato really. So all the farmers in San Carlos are asking really is to give ‘me eight weeks protection so I can sell my potatoes and make money so that I can feed my family at a dollar at pound.’ That is all the farmers are asking. The farmers in Cayo maybe asking for another six or eight weeks. That is all the farmers are asking from the government and the consumers. Give me eight weeks so I can sell my product. I am not asking you to give me any money. Just buy my product and allow me to sell my product at a reasonable affordable price so I can pay my cost of producing, pay the financial institutions and feed my family. Is that much to ask from the Belizean public and from this government? I don’t think so.”

At the Orange Walk market, we found red and white potatoes. Market Vendor Berta Velasco says she bought the red potatoes from farmers of the Mennonite communities. She wasn’t too please with the quality of the potatoes that the farmers of San Carlos Village sold her last year.

Berta Velasco, Market Vendor

“I would to tell the farmers in San Carlos to bring better potatoes. Last year, they brought potatoes with holes and I couldn’t sell them.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Who loses?”

Berta Velasco

“We do. They don’t lose anything because we pay them, they take the cash, but who loses is us.”

Hipolito Novelo

“And this year, the producers from San Carlos have come here to sell their products?”

Beta Velasco

“Here at the market, they have not come. Only the Mennonites have come to sell their potatoes. Those from San Carlos have not come.”

According to Orange Walk South Area Representative, Jose Abelardo Mai, a meeting was held in January among stakeholders including farmers who were told that the issuance of import license for potatoes has ceased. With Belizeans consuming more than sixty thousands pounds of potatoes a week, farmers expected that by the time their potatoes were ready for harvesting, the white potato would have been out of the market.

Jose Abelardo Mai

“If the last permit was issued on the eleventh of January and there is stil potato on the market, what this is saying, means is that those permits have lasted three weeks on the market and maybe there are more out there. It makes me wonder how much permits were given and what volumes were distributed. It makes me wonder.”

It makes the farmers worry. If the farmers manage to inject their red potatoes in the local market now, they will compete with the importers of the white potatoes. The prices will decrease and the local farmers will feel the negative effects.

Jose Abelardo Mai

“The consumers keep pushing down the famers’ price so there is no kind of subsidy for the farmers here. So the Mexican potato is at less than half the price that is sold here. So an importer would prefer to buy imported potato and sell it to a Chinese businessman or wholesaler or to a retailer because he is making fifty dollars profit per sack. So he will tend to go to buy from the Mexicans than buy the Belizean farmers where he will make only ten dollars per sack. So there is no support for the farmer. Now the crop is just starting and already the farmer say he went to Belize City yesterday and he took two thousand pounds which is twenty bags. He was only able to sell twelve bags. He has to bring back the potato all the way from Belize City to San Carlos again. Now I hope for the farmer’s sake that that is not or will not be the situation for this year.”


Is the Contraband of Mexican Potatoes Affecting Local Farmers?

According to Mai, local potato farmers have also been affected by contraband. He says that all relevant stakeholders should come together to prevent the perpetuation of illegally bringing in the vegetable as it affects local producers.

Jose Abelardo Mai, Area Representative, Orange Walk South

“The good thing about this is that the Belizean potatoes are red potatoes and the Mexican is white potatoes. So it is clearly seen. So the only time that they can smuggle in potatoes just at this point, just before the local potatoes start coming in. They can bring in a hundred, five hundred bags and say “see I still have potatoes. I didn’t sell it. I got this off my import permit. I haven’t sold everything yet.’ And that extends and extends and it never ends. It is never consumed nd a nightmare for these farmers. At a dollar per pound, I think the farmers deserved it. They pay taxes. Look at the roads they have to travel on not to mention the hard work. I would tell you something, what is admirable from these people. You know that the people from this community here have sent people to study in Cuba. They have people who have bachelor’s degree and master degree. Do you know how they do it? Just working the land and selling their product.”

Hipolito Novelo

“How many farmers in San Carlos are being affected?”

Jose Abelardo Mai

“We have about twenty-five farmers here. They are all producing an average of an acre and a half per farmer I think. All there are asking is for eight weeks so they can sell their potatoes. We hope that they don’t face the same problem as the year before.”

Hipolito Novelo

“At what point does the farmers start losing their money?”

Jose Abelardo Mai

“I think at seventy cents they are breaking even. But if you can’t sell something and somebody offers you eighty cents, you will take it. But really a decent price would be a dollar a pound. That is what they deserve to earn for their hard work. A great amount of this is going back to the government in taxes.”

Channel 5


Re: Potato Farmers Searching For a Market [Re: Marty] #534792
02/09/19 05:42 AM
02/09/19 05:42 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 61,694
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

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Marty  Online Happy OP

Minister of Agriculture says potato situation is not an oversight

Minister of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse today said that the allegation of potatoes saturating the market is misleading. While admitting that imported white potatoes are still on the market, it was not an oversight by the Ministry. Meanwhile, Orange Walk vendors say that they are depleting their stocks of imported potatoes and have begun buying and selling locally grown red potatoes this week. Dalila Ical has more on this story.

Modesta Vasquez: “What we want is that they allow us to finish selling what we have already meaning the other potatoes so that we can also get our money because that is an investment that we made. We cannot throw out the products.

Dalilah Ical: ”Modesta Vasquez says her stock of imported white potatoes are almost sold out but she already has local grown potatoes for sale as well. She bought these from the Mennonite farmers of New Landing in the Orange Walk District. She says San Carlos Village farmers are only starting to bring their produce to this market this week. Agricultural Minister Hulse says that Orange Walk farmers hold account for roughly 15% of potatoes growers within Cayo having the largest group and a few in the Stann Creek District. He says they have been working to keep a steady supply of potatoes on the market to meet the demand.

Minister Hulse: “The Ministry has tried its best together with the Ministry of Trade to balance this out and as consequence you will find that time to time in any commodities you will find this kind of overlap. The impression given out there that they are being disregarded is completely false because what has happened is that it is a balancing effort but it is not as though that the Government is issuing permits to the ignorance or the disrespect of the farmers, none at all. It is a balancing process.”

Dalilah Ical: “And there is another problem that has affected farmers annually. A lot of the produce that comes through is contraband and that gets put on the fact that oh permits are issued. No they came in illegally and that is something we are also trying to work with. That is a comprehensive work, that is Customs, Police, Immigration, BDF etc. A lot of the stuff you see on the market is contraband stuff so you have got to bear that in mind as well.”

Dalilah Ical: “By midweek Orange Walk market venders began selling the local produce. There is however one small concern as voiced by Concepcion Rosa.”

Concepcion Rosa: “Starting this week there won’t white ones just the local. Because the permits have expired there is none but like how we have potatoes we have to sell what we have. The balance of the potatoes and the local ones are good. The only thing is that San Carlos does not bring good potatoes. He does not select potatoes, he just harvests and picks. He should select it. We understand that he takes good potatoes to Belize City and brings the ones that are good to Orange Walk. If we are going to handle local potatoes they should be good potatoes in the same way the Mennonites are bringing good potatoes then they can also do it. Select the potatoes and the ones that are not good, these should not be packed in.”

Dalilah Ical: “And spoilage as it turns out is also a problem for farmers who have inadequate or low storage facilities.”

Minister Hulse: ”The issue with potatoes in this country really is storage because everything tends to come in at one time and you have to have that storage so that we save. The Ministry is also working with some people with that in terms of processing and their ability to store and hopefully we should be able to get on top of that.”

Dalilah Ical: “And what of prices? Part of the complaint was that imported potatoes were selling at a cheaper price and venders disagreed.”

Modesta Vasquez: “There is no difference because the white potatoes are sold for $1.50 and the red are potatoes are at $1.50 as well right now. We buy it at $1 and we sell it at $1.50. We make 50 cents on a pound of potatoes.”

Concepcion Rosa “It is still the same because we buy and sell at the same price so it does not affect us.”

Dalilah Ical Love News.

Agriculture Minster Godwin Hulse added that government has begun working closely with farmers to improve agriculture produce nationwide.

LOVEFM


Re: Potato Farmers Searching For a Market [Re: Marty] #534984
02/21/19 05:26 AM
02/21/19 05:26 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 61,694
oregon, spr
Marty Online happy OP

.
Marty  Online Happy OP

The Glut of Potato Supply in the Country

Turning to glut in potato supply in the country.… The Chief Agriculture Officer, Andrew Harrison says that Belizeans consume over three point five million pounds of potato annually; one hundred thousand pounds weekly.  And the production of red potatoes is more than consumption.  P.U.P. area rep and shadow agriculture minister, Jose Abelardo Mai, has a different view. He says that the ministry is responsible for the surplus in the fields, which could eventually lead to farmers losing on their investments. But Minister of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse says that the issues are only being addressed under the U.D.P. administration and the agricultural sector is booming.

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“What the release says is accurate. The potatoes produced up north is a much smaller percentage of the total national consumption and production. This ministry has sat with potato producers, before my time and since my time, to try to get this to come to a balance. The problem is one, we don’t have the necessary storage and harvests come in at the same time. But remember that we also have to balance consumption with production and you can’t have Belizean people calling for we have a shortage of potato and then we have a glut. So we try to even that out and that is what the ministry has been doing. So I do not at all weigh in on this thing that it is the ministry’s fault. The farmers we have met with; we’ve spoke to them. One of the things I will say is we are not going to get into this control of price and control; this is a commercial activity. The same way we have been doing with cane farmers. This is a commercial activity and the more people recognize that, the better we will be. You don’t want government in the mix; you want government in terms of sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues. You also want government to do certain facilitation and the ministry has. We’ve produced markets; we are doing now a complete census around the country—I think you are all familiar with that to know who’s where, doing what, when and so—so that we can address these kind of issues. The ministry and the C.E.O. especially have been very active in trying to create a virtual market place and using technology so that we would know who is preparing what, when, what quality, etc. and be able to get to the market.”

Channel 5



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