Belize's most complete independent agricultural publication

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Mary Susan Loan

Mary Susan Loan has 31 articles published.

Nematodes – Friend and Foe

in Issue 37 by

by Mary Loan Nematodes are non-segmented worms that live everywhere on the planet, including in ice and snow to the depths of the ocean and even in arid deserts. They are most abundant in tropical regions of the world, like Belize. Other names they are known as include: eel worms, thread worms, root knot worms. There are thousands of identified species of nematodes with estimates of about one-half million varieties to be ‘discovered’, studied and named. Most nematodes are almost invisible to the human eye and are less than 1 mm, or 1/125 of an inch in length. There are generally thousands of nematodes in a handful of soil, over one million in a spadeful, and as many as three…

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Surinam Cherry

in Featured/Issue 33 by

Surinam cherry bushes grow all over Belize; they have pumpkin-shaped fruits that are botanically berries, but resemble cherries. If you are not familiar with Surinam cherries, imagine classic bing cherries with eight ribs growing on beautiful glossy evergreen leaved bushes. The cherries/berries look like cherries, but do not taste like cherries. The taste of the Surinam cherry fruit when ripe is said to resemble fig, mango, green pepper, with undertones of balsam and apricot, and even a touch of pine-like resin and tobacco aftertaste. Before the fruits are ripe they are tart, acidic and bitter tasting. It is best to pick only the fruits which are dark red and readily fall into your hand. There is a rare variety of…

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NATS/Agric Show 2016

in Issue 33 by

The National Agriculture Trade Show (NATS) name has morphed into Agric Show. The 2016 Agric Show, held on the fairgrounds in Belmopan from April 29 – May 1, drew 39,500 visitors. The 50 acre plus fairgrounds have been updated each year with a vision to eventually use the NATS fairground for a year-round Saturday marketplace with new barns, a permanent horticulture garden and tilipia farm as a training ground for future farmers in Belize with the support of Minister of Agriculture Gaspar Vega. Mr. Vega is dedicated to helping small farms succeed with the goal of helping Belize reduce its dependence on imports and become more secure in food production and distribution. Some highlights of the 2016 Agric Show included…

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Antibiotics Off The Menu

in Issue 32 by

The Belize Bureau of Standards commemorated “World Consumer Rights Day 2016” in Belize on March 14th at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel by hosting a seminar with the theme Antibiotics off the Menu. The World Health Organization has identified the over-use of antibiotics in animal feed as a world crisis. The event focused on the risks of antibiotic use in the poultry, pig and cattle industry. “The widespread use of antibiotics is used to control, suppress or to kill micro-organisms,” stated Armando Cowo, manager of the Belize Poultry Association. Mr. Cowo urged the use of antibiotics to be limited and used only “when it is absolutely necessary.” He recommended that farmers use best practices by keeping barns and animal lots…

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Saving Heritage Seeds in Belize – David Johansen’s Seed Garden and Vault

in Featured/Issue 31 by

Since age twelve David Johansen has had an avid interest in seeds and farming; he has lived and farmed in Colorado, Utah, Missouri, and California. Having traveled widely in Belize and Central America to procure hardy, tolerant seeds adapted to the challenging growing conditions in Belize, David developed his 35 acre farm and seed bank over the past eight years in the Spanish Lookout area with great success. He has many crops growing abundantly to full maturity in order for him to harvest seeds to sell locally and fulfill orders for Belizean grown seeds from US seed companies. In order to preserve the seeds in cool temperature, low humidity conditions, David designed and constructed a climate-controlled underground depository cement vault…

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Life Everlasting Plant

in Issue 31 by

The succulent herb Kalanchoe pinnatum, sometimes called Bryophyllum pinnatum, has many common names: life everlasting, miracle leaf, cathedral bells, wonder plant, never die, leaf of life, sprouting leaf, resurrection plant, mother of millions, and many other names. It is a member of the Crassulaceae plant family. Native to Madagascar, it grows prolifically in Belize and other tropical regions of the world. The plant grows easily and although it is valued as an ornamental garden plant, it is considered an invasive species in some areas. Life everlasting is believed to be a panacea for many ailments. It is rich in over two dozen healing chemical compounds, including, alkaloids, triterpenes, glycosides, flavonoids, steroids, and lipids. Life everlasting plants are perennial and grow…

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Mopan Technical and Vocational High School Agriculture Program

in Issue 31 by

Mopan Technical and Vocational High School in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo District, the agriculture science program offers students sound practical hands-on courses designed to prepare students for a career in agriculture. In addition to animal husbandry skills, the program focuses on teaching students how to manage soil and organic matter, sow seeds, tend plants and harvest in the fields and in green houses. The program also includes courses in the sciences and finances, complementing the field work, to round out skills needed to successfully manage a farm or teach agriculture. In order to graduate, students must pass the Caribbean Examinations Council (CEC) Agriculture Science exam. Mr. Francisco Tun, principal of the high school has a commitment to prepare students…

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Lemon Grass

in Issue 30 by

The typical variety of lemon grass grown in Belize, Cymbopogan citratus, is commonly known as “fever grass” as a traditional remedy to reduce and alleviate symptoms of fever. Lemon grass is a perennial plant that grows in large clusters of long thin green leaves and produces a pleasant lemony, citrus aroma when crushed. It has a slightly pungent, but delicate lemony flavor with undertones of mint and ginger to season food, especially tea, soups, curries and salads. Stalks and bulbs of the plant are commonly used as an ingredient in Asian and Indian cuisine. As a gardening aid in tropical gardens it is used as a companion plant. Many Belizeans have lemon grass plants growing as an attractive decorative and…

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Pro-Organic Belize On The Grow!

in Issue 30 by

The seeds for Pro-Organic Belize (POB) group were planted at a symposium “Sourcing Healthy Food in Cayo” which was held at Maya Mountain Lodge in November 2014. Following this well-attended event, POB paired up with the San Antonio Cayo Organic Growers Association (SACOGA) to cultivate a growing relationship with the goal of having organic produce for sale at the San Ignacio open air market on Saturday mornings starting in December 2014. SACOGA now has a permanent booth at the market, run by Abdias Mesh, the founder and director of SACOGA and takes orders for fresh organic produce each week for pick-up on Saturday morning (see ad below). POB and SACOGA have developed a participatory guarantee system (PGS) of organic certification…

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Oregano!

in Featured/Issue 29 by

Pungent, balsamic, spicy, zesty, slightly bitter, aromatic, tasty and healing describes oregano, an ancient herb with many culinary and healing properties. Oregano, origanum vulgare, is a well-known common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family. Grown as a hardy small shrub and considered to be a perennial herb, oregano grows to be anywhere from about two to over six feet tall. One bush goes a long way and will stay productive for at least three years or longer, then will reseed itself. Two varieties of oregano are grown and used in Belize. One is the familiar small medium grayish to green leaved kind, described above, which many associate with pizza and spaghetti sauce. The other variety, grown widely…

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