A Hand to the Needy says Uruguay rice was never meant to be sold Belize Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 December 2011 00:00

BrianThere has been much said about six bags of Uruguayan rice, which has surfaced in Orange Walk as it was being sold by a Chinese grocer at a cost lower than what local rice would retail for. All indications are that the rice was imported into the country by a charitable organization “A Hand to the Needy.” In speaking with the charity’s operational manager Brian Sabido, the rice was imported to be distributed free of cost to various organizations in Belize but it was never meant to be sold.

Sabido spoke to the Guardian Newspaper and explained that the charity has been in operation in Belize for over twenty years. He has been at the organization for the past 10 years and he said that this is the first instance when any commodity, which was imported for free distribution, was being sold.

Sabido added that rice is not the only commodity, which it imports into Belize. He said that the organization regularly brings in other food items and even items such as freezers and stoves to be distributed to charity organizations. Rice however is one of the primary imports; every year the government gives the NGO permission to import as much as 2,880 pounds of rice, which in turn, it would distribute to needy individuals across the country as well as some 52 schools, which have feeding programs in place.

Asked how the rice made its way into the local market, Sabido explained that the organization keeps strict control of their product distribution. He added that the only way in which anyone could have gotten the rice out is if was stolen. He added that during Tropical Storm Harvey, the NGO’s warehouse was damaged with some of the zinc siding being blown off allowing for the possibility that someone would have gotten in and stolen items. The warehouse is located in the BDF Price Barracks warehouse compound.

Whatever the case, there is now a case being made against the “Hand to the Needy” charity organization, which some people are trying to make political mischief out of. The claim is that the Uruguayan rice, which up to this point only amounts to 6 bags (which were being sold) is affecting the market. Sabido says the allegations are ludicrous as the rice is only distributed to schools and is given away in various villages across the country. The amounts of rice being distributed, he added, would have no effect on the local market.

For now there is a multi- agency effort to determine how the rice got out and was being sold commercially when it was never meant for that purpose. The most interested party in trying to determining how the rice got out is the NGO, which says the incident may severely hinder its future philanthropic operations in Belize.