Local Rice farmers say NO to cheap imported rice

Currently the Belize rice industry supports almost 100 local rice farmers, 5 milling companies, and more than 2000 permanent and seasonal workers. But today, Rice producers say they are worried about the viability of Rice Industry in Belize because of the threat of Guyanese rice entering the Belize market. PlusNews has confirmed that 3 container loads of rice from Guyana are currently in Route To Belize, purchased by importer Jack Charles. That rice is currently held up at a port in Guatemala, but is slated to reach Belize anytime soon. The imported rice, which will be sold as “JC Rice” is already being advertised on local radio, and boasts a retail price of 69 cents. Rice currently sells for at least 25 cents more on the shelf. And while COLA only yesterday endorsed JC Rice as necessary for today’s economic realities, the rice producers got a needed boost today when a Press release was sent from the Belize Agro-productive Sector Group.  The release states that Belize is already self-sufficient in rice and that quote

Since the importer is claiming publicly that Belizean rice farmers are price gouging, and inflating production costs, while simultaneously making huge profits…

  1. Why does he not join us and grow cheaper rice here in Belize?
  2. Why does he not invest in the industry here and put hundreds of Belizeans to work, instead of just a few people to distribute his Guyanese rice?

The sector states  that Guyanese rice in other countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Trinidad and Jamaica sold in the SAME price range that Belizean rice is currently sold here in Belize,  and insinuate that quote…

In reality, imported rice at 69 cents per pound is UNSUSTAINABLE for the long term. This low price is a ploy to have Guyanese rice enter the Belizean market. When our already stressed local rice industry becomes extinct, imported rice will then become more expensive with little to no benefit to Belizeans except to the importer!

The release adds that Guyana is desperately looking for new rice markets due to losing their huge Venezuela market.  The loss of this huge Petro Caribe market is forcing them to “dump” their current crop.  The release ends by reiterating that Rice farmers want lower rice prices on the shelves too.  We quote

It’s a fact that our cost of production for rice is higher than most countries. This is why we have been lobbying Government for some of the same subsidies that are available to Guyanese rice growers and even available here in Belize to big companies.”

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