… Rising Tortilla Costs Leave Belize's Vulnerable Struggling to Afford a Basic Meal
By: Omar Silva, Editor, National Perspective Belize
Belize City: Wednesday, 27th September 2023 – Recent revelations of Belize exporting corn grain to neighbouring countries have left many questioning the logic behind these exports, as the cost of a staple food item, the beloved tortilla, skyrockets in the nation. As prices surge, Belizeans are calling on the government to intervene and make this essential food affordable for all, especially those living in poverty.
The Ministry of Agriculture's claim of corn grain exports has raised eyebrows, as it seems counterintuitive that a country that exports corn should be grappling with soaring prices of corn-based products. The cost per pound of tortilla has now reached an alarming $2.25 in urban areas, and an even more distressing $2.50 in remote regions. Corn tacos, a common and economical meal, featuring a thin layer of chicken spread, now cost 2 for $1, making them the most affordable option for many poverty-stricken Belizeans.
The situation is reminiscent of our neighbouring Republic, Mexico, which heavily subsidizes the cost of tortillas to ensure their population can afford this vital food item. While Mexico also imports corn in some areas, the crucial difference lies in their population size, with over 120 million people to support. Belize, on the other hand, has a population of less than 500,000, and it has a surplus of corn grain, yet the cost of corn tortillas remains prohibitively high for many of its citizens.
The question on everyone's minds is: Why is Belize exporting corn grain while its own people struggle to afford the basic sustenance of tortillas? It's a question that demands answers and action.
Voices from the Ground:
Brenda Ramirez, a mother of three living in Belize City, shares her struggle: "It's heartbreaking to see the cost of tortillas go up while our government is exporting corn. We need help; we need affordable food. Our children deserve to eat."
Carlos Gomez, a local tortilla vendor, adds his perspective: "I've been making tortillas for over twenty years, and I've never seen prices this high. People are struggling, and we can't keep up with the cost. We need the government to step in and help us."
A Call to Action:
Belizeans are rallying behind the call for government intervention. They demand that the authorities take immediate steps to address this crisis:
Subsidize Tortilla Production: The government must consider subsidizing the production of tortillas to ensure that they remain affordable for all Belizeans.
Review Corn Export Policies: A thorough review of corn export policies is imperative to balance domestic needs with international trade.
Support Local Farmers: Government support should extend to local corn farmers, ensuring that they can continue to provide for the domestic market.
Transparency and Accountability: Belizeans seek transparency in the agricultural sector, and accountability from policymakers to ensure that the interests of the people are put first.
As the cost of corn-based staples continues to rise, Belizeans unite in their plea for action. The government must respond to their call and take meaningful steps to secure affordable food for all, especially the most vulnerable among us. It's time to put the well-being of Belizean citizens first and ensure that the nation's surplus corn benefits its own people.