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Issue 06

Featuring: Chicken Feathers; Insect Pollination & Cane Ethanol.

Belize Ripe for a Farmers Credit Union?

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I was asked: “What do you think of a Farmers Credit Union?” Well, after some thought, I think this is a timely question because: There are an estimated 10,000 small and medium size farmers who do not have the land titles or other commercial assets to qualify for a bank loan; perhaps a small minority of these belong to any credit union. Most commercial banks and even DFC in Belize are reluctant to lend directly to th e small farmers as they are too far away from their target group (minimum loans of $10,000) and they represent a high risk factor. Banks also do not have the appropriate know-how to deal with these clients. In addition, they estimate that the…

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Cane Ethanol For Belize?

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Many of us remember Petrojam’s brief venture in the energy business in Northern Belize in the late 90’s. Are conditions favorable now for us to reconsider the potential of biofuel from sugarcane? It’s a natural tendency to study the actions of those who are are our major trading partners – for us, North America. However, in the instance of biofuels, tropical Belize should be looking south, to tropical Brazil for vision more applicable to us. (The U.S. leads the world in bio-ethanol production, using corn. Brazil is second, using sugarcane.) The U.S., due to its prevailing temperate climate and its strong corn lobby have failed to give cane ethanol the attention it deserves. At long last though, cane ethanol facilities…

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Liquid Fertilizer

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David and John Thiessenare the owners of Thiessen Liquid Fertilizer handling the Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers products thru their facility loca ted in Spanish Lookout. They started in the fertilizer business in 2005 where their first year sales were $250,000 BZ and in the years since they have had very good growth averaging 40+% growth each year. David and John work with growers who use the Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers product on their crops; one of the reasons for the success is that the products fit the growers’ very diverse nutrient needs. The soils in Belize are very productive but can be very variable. With the Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizer’s product line Thiessens can custom tailor a nutrient blend for each individual grower…

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From The Editor

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Hats Off To Promoters Of The Spanish Lookout Expo Estimates of between 12,000 to16,000 people made the ef- fort to visit the First Annual Spanish Lookout Commercial/ Industrial Expo, held as a one day event on February 27th , at Countryside Park, Spanish Lookout, Cayo District. Close to 100 businesses, most but not all Mennonite owned, set up booths and exhibits to showcase their wares and services. The Belize Ag Report salutes the main sponsors of that show: Farmers Trading Center, Universal Hardware, Western Dairies, Quality Poultry, Westrac and Belize Tire Depot. We understand that the turn out was so successful, that organizers are considering making this a two-day event next year, and may include more agriculture – crops, horti-culture…

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To The Editor

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Dear Editor, In the past people from Belize had asked me for information on my program on micro-budding. I gave an invited talk at the 64th Annual Meeting of the Sub-tropical Plant Science Meetin g, Weslaco, TX, January 25, 2009. My topic was “Learning to Live with HLB.” It was a situation analysis and options available to the citrus industry for HLB management. I would like to share it with you. It is 14 minutes, flash video you can watch or download from http://www.screencast.com/t/ZTdlZjQ3Link to the video is also posted at the Florida Citrus Mutual website http://www.flcitrusmutual.com/greening-info/greening_news.aspx Please feel free to share it with people you think may like to watch it. Sincerely, Mani Skaria, PhD Professor& Plant Pathologist Texas…

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Organic Production – The Afterlife Of A Chicken

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Poultry in Belize is more of an integral part of the agricultural systems than most realize. The chickens consume the corn grown in Belize, thus reducing the levels of corn in the silos of the feed mills. The chickens are also the most consumed meat-based protein in the country. This “consume and be consumed” process has developed into a steady agricultural loop that maintains a balance of one of the biggest agricultural revenue streams in Belize. The chicken actually can do more for Belize than most realize. In the organic world of limited sources of nitrogen, the chicken can play a key role. The chicken manure, after a composting process, can supply adequate supplies of nitrogen for the soils. The…

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Rural Roots – Organic Certification

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With due deference to William Shakespeare this simple question lies at the heart of the development of organic agriculture in Belize; “whether ’tis nobler” to use increasingly expensive chemical inputs or to revert back to using simple soil management and biological control techniques. The latter determine Belize’s ability to compete in the increasing organic market region wide. The Caribbean production of certified organic produce represents 28% of the total certified farms worldwide with 16% of regional land dedicated to organic production (IICA 2008-Mr. Pedro Cussianovich). A visit to Dangriga’s market this weekend illustrated the confusion or knowledge deficit, common to the introduction of organics in Belize. Crops grown using other than certified organic seed on uncertified as organic soil without…

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The Importance of Insect Pollination to Crops

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The importance of insect pollination, primarily bees, to improving the quality and production of cultivated crops is not new information. B.N. Gates in 1917 warned the grower that, “he may fertilize, and cultivate the soil, prune, thin and spray the trees; in a word, he may do all of those things which modern practice advocates, yet without his pollinating agents, chief among which are the honey bees, to transfer the pollen from the stamens to the pistil of the blooms, his crop may fail.” In 1967 J.H. Girardeau and D.B. Leuck produced a significant 6 to 11 percent more peanuts grown in open field than from plots caged to exclude bees. The vicinity of a forest with native pollinators near…

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From The Mexican Side – Test Run

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Through a series of coincidences I was able to meet Beth Roberson, publisher of the Belize Ag Report and read several issues of the magazine. I shared them with other businessmen in Playa del Carmen and we were so impressed with the agricultural information in this magazine that we as a small group of Mexican businessmen have decided to start a testing program trying different Belizean products in various businesses in the Riviera Maya over the next couple of months. From the ads we already have an idea of what is available and have picked several products for testing. The magazine for us is essential to facilitate communication between Belize producers and Mexican buyers. We hope to see more ads…

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Beyond The Backyard – Divine Intervention – The Air Potato

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I was shown a strange looking tuber by an avid gardener. The attractive vine with pretty patterned green leaves, climbed high on a tall old tree and displayed an abundant crop of fascinating brown nubby looking potatoes. He said his pigs happily fed on them and that they are easy to grow. “Well how about for people?” “Never tried one.” Everyone likes to grow unusual exotic plants, especially edibles. So armed with a couple of samples I head home eager to try this intriguing vegetable. However I first decided to google air potato and see if it was truly edible. Imagine my surprise to find an onslaught of information. On the one hand the promoters selling the plants and then…

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