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Farmers will save Belize

Farmers will save Belize
February 08
10:29 2019

By Neferetary Marin

Being raise on a producing cattle ranch and farm, I learned to work hard and efficiently before and after school to accomplish all that needed to be done to keep the family business running smoothly through both prosperous and hard times. I developed a strong respect for land and natural resources, accompanied by a deep understanding of business and trade; which has carried me throughout my personal and career endeavours.

I believe our people deserve better than politicians who make promises they can’t keep, who don’t understand what it’s like to raise a family with two (or sometime just one) working parents, who tell us that they are looking out for us but are only looking out for themselves, and who are ignoring how hard farmers and entrepreneurs must work to survive in this economy.

I am running for office and leading the BPF because I believe our two-party system is broken. We need a new generation of leaders to change our political system. Our system leaves too many people disengaged, because too many politicians are only in it for themselves.

I can’t accept the status quo any longer, because politicians and policy makers should be improving our communities – not taking our votes for granted. I have always and will always put people first before party politics. I believe in listening to problems, understanding the root of them and identifying solutions, and in dialogue to get things done, just like we do at home and on the ranch.

I believe we all deserve to be represented, especially the farmers who should be feeding our nation and contributing to the food basket of Latin America and the Caribbean.

When I read on the news of our farmers investing so much time and money into producing food items for local consumption and our Government allowing importers (cronies) to import and kill local produce; it hurts. It hits too close to home for me.

My family suffered these losses under Hon. George Price and Hon. Esquivel when we produced thousands of cabbages and they rotted because we could not compete with imported cabbage. If you are over 40 years of age, you will remember that we organized farmers and dumped the cabbages in front of the Assembly Building on both occasions. I remind you all of this just to say that I’m not a leader that talks from assumption. I have lived it and I feel for our people.

This and many other injustices and corrupt actions against our people is why I am proposing a total and complete change in the way and by whom we are governed.

Under the Populist Party, BPF, we will no longer buy overseas what our farmers can produce. And what we need to buy, we will buy from Latin America and the Caribbean first. While we strengthen Belize, we must also do what we can to strengthen our neighbours. Strong neighbours could mean strong allies if we play our cards right.

The farming program of the BPF is not a set of vague promises; the Belize People’s front drafted a plan for food security for the nation of Belize in 2013, based on our first-hand experience and consultation with both farmers and economists.

Our farming program for Belize calls for food sovereignty; which means that we believe that the people who produce, distribute, and consume food should control the mechanisms and policies of our food production, distribution and cost. It is our intention to make Belize self sufficient by the year 2025; by investing in and protecting all of our farmers and by not creating competition for them through importation of any food items they are producing.

The country’s dependence on food imports has soared since NAFTA. Today we sadly import much more than we produce. I want to change that. We must treat all small and medium-scale farmers as deserving of public investment. Our plan addresses chronic market failures in the agricultural section of Belize, with credit programs, crop insurance and protection from corrupt anti-competitive practices.

We will provide support to producers farming fewer than 50 acres and have field managers assigned to no more that 10 farms per manager, to ensure these farmers are benefiting from professional advice, monetary and product incentives as well as representation in our national plan.

The plan commits to a transition toward agro-ecology and creates a national system for the protection and improvement of our agro-biodiversity as well as the economic protection of our farmers and local industries.

A comprehensive strategy will be established to achieve food self-sufficiency by 2025 in corn, beans, rice, soybean, onions, potatoes, milk, chicken, egg, beef, pork, lamb and seafoods and will introduce a new and promising none timber- forestry industry.

Belize has a lot of potential. If we are to not just survive but prosper, we must become self-sufficient first. The change is at our fingertips and we must all decide together because we are all in this together.

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