Screen_Shot_2014-04-01_at_6.40.23_PMTonight, there are hard times in Margaritaville: skyrocketing lime prices slam restaurants and bars; crop damage and tree disease have driven costs of the green citrus to an all-time high. Reporter Maria Novelo and videojournalist Jesus Melgar take to the streets to find out if its scarcity is affecting businesses.


Maria Novelo – Reporting


It’s no pulp fiction, there’s a genuine shortage of lime. A mainstay of the margarita and an essential ingredient, ceviche lovers say, for their dish. You can find them, but be prepared to pay.  A bad harvest year in Belize is causing a run on limes in the country, suddenly making the fruit a precious resource for owners of restaurants and other lime-loving businesses.


Angela Lopez – Chief, Nahil Mayab Resturant


“We are not having ceviches, salpicon but at the bar we have the mix drinks because at the bar for the mix drinks we have to have it always and it is a little expensive but it a seller.”


It’s a bitter reality and first for Belize since it usually is a year round citrus. Vendors say it’s hard to find and consumers second guess in buying them.


Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor


“Setenta y cinco por un limón y yo creo que por los ceviches también afecta.”


Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor


“El problema aquí en Belice es de que cada ano no hay limones, cada cuando llega estos tiempos no hay ni naranjas agrias ni limones y otras clases de frutas.”


Vendors say heavy rains and a tree diseases afflicting the area has not helped.


Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor


“BAHA dio la orden  de cortar las matas porque tenía un bichito blanco pues,  y eso no era un problema porque para eso hay una medicina, allí en El Salvador un tiempo todos los arboles como naranjas, limones así consiguieron esa enfermedad  y la medicina de eso hace la mescla del jabón y la ceniza y eso se le junta a la mata y se fumiga y los bichitos todo calle.”


Porfilia Pott - Fruit Vendor


“Los limones están pequeñitos pero cuando caiga las lluvias van abundar los limones unos dos a tres más meses.”

The fact remains, lime lovers are being squeezed by high prices. 

 

International Regional Organization for plant and animal health’s country Representative, Fermin Blanco, says they, along with BAHA, had conducted a citrus greening control project which is a deadly citrus disease spread by a tiny flying insect but could not confirm if the impact was one directed at the shortage of limes. It is of note that the largest World exporter of Limes, Mexico is also faced with the scarcity.

 

Limes are currently so precious that there have been reports of Mexican lime sellers being robbed of the fruits at gunpoint. Crime cartels have even taken a supply-side interest. Restaurateurs have responded by substituting other fruit, eliminating limes as a garnish, raising the prices of margaritas or simply not serving the popular Mexican libation.

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