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Issue 14

Featuring: Pasture Management; Headhunter's Asparagus - Katuk; Mahogany - Our National Tree & Citrus Leprosis.

Pasture Management In A Nutshell

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In Belize tropical grasses grow exceptionally well and can have a very high value to the stockman farmer. Grasses are relatively unaffected by pests and diseases, and respond very well to increased levels of management. In today’s world where theft of agricultural products can be a problem, grass is seldom stolen. Why do we not have more quality “grass farmers” in Belize? It is because, as in growing any agricultural commodity profitably, pasture care is a science that requires knowledge, planning, dedication and money. Returns per acre from properly managed intensive pastures can equally compare with other planted crops. However if a farmer has plenty of land or the inability to harvest large amounts of grass during flush growing periods…

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Can The Sugar Cane Industry Survive?

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Examining the way the sugar cane industry in Belize is regulated and administered, one could easily fail to recognize that it is a privately owned industry. Historically, an unhealthy but powerful mix of market protection, political clout due to voting numbers and its contribution to foreign exchange earnings created an attitude of invincibility and entitlement among some in the industry. The world has changed and so has our most important market for sugar, the European Union (EU). Although we were told in 1995 to anticipate and prepare for change, sixteen years later the pressure of a self-inflicted crisis is now rapidly forcing change. Can the sugar cane industry survive? The legislative and regulatory regimes governing the sugar industry are best…

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Five Acres Of Coconuts And Security

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When we first moved to our farm, we discovered that the previous owner had planted two acres of coconuts, half of which had died from lethal yellowing. At that time, the disease had decimated thousands of coconuts in the Toledo District and Belize. We travelled around the Toledo District selecting coconut seedlings from trees that had survived the blight and set about systematically replacing all the dead palms. We planted an extra acre of coconut palms for three successive years giving us a total of five acres and with subsequent blights our coconuts managed to resist disease. In the last two years they have started fruiting in respectable quantities bearing on average of 75 to 100 fruit a year. (A…

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From The Editor

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The GMO debate in recent weeks in Belize has shaken up the agriculture community to some extent. Stress can have some benefit in that it challenges all of us to listen, examine and re- evaluate. Whether it strengthens a position already held or alters thought, educating ourselves is a good thing. It is said that if the lychee tree does not receive a periodic ‘hammering to the trunk’, it will not bear fruit. We are getting our hammering, and hopefully, ‘we will bear fruit’. The Belize Ag Report writers have diverse opinions. Our publication itself is inert and opinion-less, operating as a framework within which ‘to disperse information useful to the producers large and small’ (Mission Statement p. 6). The…

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To The Editor

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Editor Sir, The GM corn seed that was destroyed by burning on Friday October 7 th 2011 was imported with the proper paperwork and permissions. It had a BAHA import permit, and a letter from the Biosafety Council. The GM corn that was destroyed had been genetically modified to contain two genes, cry1Fa2 and pat, for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance respectively. Both genes were introduced into the parental maize hybrid line Hi-II by particle acceleration (biolistic) transformation. The cry1Fa2 gene, isolated from the common soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt ) var.aizawai , produces the insect control protein Cry1F. There is over 30 years of commercial use of B.t. _ preparations in organic farming without any report of allergenicity attributed…

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Organic Production – Fungus Amongus…

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In the previous edition, I described the organization of the leaf cutter ants, their association with fungi, and a few methods to deter their habits. This edition, I would like to address another option in dealing with their palette. A scientific study was conducted to test the effects of utilizing the waste pile of the ant nest as a deterrent for their choice of food sources. The study applied fresh waste pile material on the leaves and around seedlings. The ants were deterred from utilizing the leaves of the seedlings due to the intense cleanliness practices of the colony. The waste pile contains products that they remove from the nest and this prevents them from reintroducing the material to the…

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Belizean Candidates Selected To Attend Training Courses On Agriculture, Food Security And Social Policies Under The Sponsorship Of The Government Of Brazil

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The Embassy of Brazil in Belize informs that further to the international event “Brazilian Technical Cooperation: Agriculture, Food Security and Social Policies” – which was held in Rome, Italy, June 24, 2011, and has been attended by the Hon. Rene Montero, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, on behalf of Belize – the Government of Brazil has announced a program of short-term training courses on agriculture and social insertion for the benefit of developing countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. More than 50 developing countries are applying for these courses. This program comprises 24 courses (of a duration from 40 to 80 hours) to be offered by 20 Brazilian institutions of excellence, which have played…

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SHI Belize Organic Fair 2011

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On Saturday October 29 th, 2011 Sustainable Harvest International Belize held its Third Annual Organic Fair at the Central Park in Punta Gorda Town. There were a total of twenty eight booths (listed below) comprised of NGO’s and farmers working with SHI Belize. It is estimated that eight hundred to a thousand people visited the booths throughout the course of the day. Each of SHI’s field officers reported that their farmers made over two hundred dollars each. Two farmers sold twenty bags of corn at forty dollars a bag. Mrs. Caliz from Mafredi congratulated the SHI staff for the fair and said she sold absolutely everything she had on sale. There is no denying that this fair was a huge…

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Beyond The Backyard – Growing Green

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I used to wonder why there were not more green vegetables in the market until it occurred to me that since leafy vegetables are best picked fresh they were probably growing in home gardens. Sure enough! Chaya, callaloo, dasheen, spinach, pumpkin and various herbs were found plus several I was not familiar with. One bush with large love heart leaves adorned with white candle-like flowers smelled deliciously fragrant of anise and black pepper. The taste test was disturbing though, as it immediately numbed my lips and tongue. Well if the Mayas have been using it for centuries it must be worthy of inclusion in the kitchen so I did some more research to be absolutely sure before experimenting at the…

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Belize’s Variable Weather

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“Normal” is not a good adjective to use for Belize’s weather. Even though small in size its weather, especially rainfall, can vary considerably even within a five mile square area of the same elevation on the same day. According to the Belize National Meteorological Service (BNMS), which collects rainfall data from all six districts every day, rainfall also varies from year to year in the same region. The variableness takes its toll on agriculture as farmers try to plow and plant to take advantage of rainfall. June to November is generally known as the rainy season but it begins in early May in Toledo and early June in Corozal. The rainy season is determined by the first occurrence after the…

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