The public has been experiencing a frustrating hike in prices of certain vegetables such as carrots and cabbage. There is a limited supply of these two vegetables and due to the law of supply and demand, the prices have increased. The price per pound of red kidney beans has also increased and this is particularly vexing for consumers across the board because as Minister Jose Mai said today, everybody eats beans. The Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise explained today that red kidney beans is in short supply because the last administration failed to realize that an amount of the country’s stock had already been committed for export. Mai says that the Belize Marketing and Distributing Board has been tasked with importing red kidney beans to stabilize the amount available n the country.

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security & Enterprise

“Well you know we just had three weeks of intense rain, rainfall. What was not flooded out was affected by rainfall. Vegetables are susceptible to many of the bacterial diseases, fungal disease so we lost many of the vegetables. But that is being important but of course managed importation. That will defienlty provide for the market. The two vegetables that I mentioned carrots and cabbage our farmers still have some in the field. It is not in large amount so therefore the law of supply and demand applies. When the demand is up, the prices go up. I have no problem making an extra buck in difficult times like these. I prefer to see a farmer making an extra buck than a businessman bringing it in from Mexico and Mexico making the extra bucks. So we have to give our farmers that privilege, that benefit to get a buck extra for their products. In regards to the red kidney beans, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Belize there was an inventory at the time that we had enough beans in the country but they, the government at the time did not realize that some of this beans was already committed for the export market. So farmers had committed those containers to the export market. So they exported the red kidney beans and here we are with no beans in the country. But the Belize Marketing Board has been instructed to import red kidney beans. Of course red kidney beans is scarce throughout the world. We are importing right now from Argentina, from Mexico, from Canada. It is marketing at one dollar and seventy cents a pound. In my view it is expensive but that is the way it is, the law of supply and demand again. You would understand that red kidney beans is the cheapest source of protein for Belizeans, for low income, high income, everybody eats beans. So it is important for our diet. I have asked the BMDC to source black beans which is generally cheaper in the market and everybody can buy. So I think the first container is supposed to be coming in next week from Mexico or somewhere like that. So there won’t be a shortage of red kidney beans and black beans. Of course the prices will be elevated because of scarcity.”

Channel 5