Saturday, December 3, 2011

RICE crop problems, why we are eating less rice.


Compliments of Channel 5 TV

Home » Agriculture, Economy, Featured » More bad news for rice farmers
Dec 2, 2011
More bad news for rice farmers

The rice industry is reeling from problem to problem. Blue Creek rice growers have experienced a huge drop in sales by as much as fifty percent and more recently imported rice from Uruguay added to their woes. Well, tonight there is another hurdle in the industry which has to do with a new tax for water that the battered industry will have to pay. The industry is at a crossroad because one of the biggest growers is threatening to close down. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This thirty-five acre spread of cereal grain, a few miles north of Circle R Mills here in Blue Creek, is being mowed using a combine harvester, a giant piece of machinery that reaps and threshes the paddy. The total harvest is approximately a hundred and fifty-seven thousand, five hundred pounds of rice. In its wake is a shallow, waterlogged field which forms part of an irrigation system known as an upland rain fed.

Ed Reimer

Ed Reimer, Proprietor, Maya Pearl Rice

“Normally we expect to get somewhere between three and five thousand pounds per acre. We do what is called upland rain fed, we do have leveled fields with levies and everything so if we have the normal amount of rain we don’t have to do a lot of work with water but we do have to control it from leaving the field.”

While farmers depend heavily on rainfall, a crop season with minimal showers presents its own challenges forcing them to resort to pipe water. News Five understands that at a recent meeting with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture a new tax regime was being introduced for the consumption of water in the rice industry. This, for most growers here, is an additional blow to an already deteriorating state of affairs.

Peter Dyck

Voice of: Peter Dyck, Managing Director, Hill Bank Agric. Co. Ltd.

“It’s taken Belize from 1970’s to about three or four year ago to become self sufficient rice, what government has done right now I would say we would wait another thirty or forty years before we our self self-sufficient in rice again because there is no reason to make an investment in rice production at this point in time, fuel costs are so high, labour is high, taxes are not helping us a lot we don’t get incentives for rice production in this country and so I don’t think there is any future in rice I honestly believe that.”

Coupled with the lack of incentives is poor marketing. It is difficult for growers to trade old stock and these silos there are tons of stale rice.

Ed Reimer

“I think the rates of production could easily go up if the other problem was solved and that is financing. But to do farming properly you need to be able to move your product within a reasonable time from the date of production. You can’t be holding it for a year and a half or two years, it’s too long because you’re paying interest to hold time and in the case of rice, when rice gets to be like a year and a half to two years old it starts to taste old and so you need to move the rice seasonally. It needs to move.”

Inactivity when it comes to the sale of rice has taken a major toll on Hill Bank Agricultural Company Limited, the country’s largest producer of rice, forcing it to go out of business.

Voice of: Peter Dyck

“We cannot continue to grow rice as we have up to now, I want to take this opportunity to thank all the customers and the people of Belize in the past that they have supported Uncle John brand of rice by buying it and consuming it, we are sorry that we have to make the announcement that we will be closing our doors for rice production in this country but we have come to this point that where it is necessary to do that and thank again Belize for supporting us all these years.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

****** There has been a reported drop of 50% in rice sales by Belize rice farmers. Everybody is trying to figure out why? All kinds of excuses are blamed, from contrabandistas smuggling in cheaper rice from neighboring countries to Charity based imported cheap rice, being resold in competition. NOBODY KNOWS THE PROBLEM answers?
I can tell you one thing. We are rice eaters in Hillview, Cayo District. But lately we got tired of rice and switched to potatoes. Plus our breadfruit tree is bearing twice a year, which supplies us with breadfruit about 3 months a year. For variety in our diet, we are eating LESS rice. If that news is of any help to you figuring out what is happening?

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