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Issue 17

Featuring: The Growing Popularity Of Pork; Callaloo & Purslane.

Pork Gaining Popularity in Belize

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The cess (a type of tax) of $1. per pig paid at slaughter, is collected by Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA). Last year slaughter cess was paid on approximately 18,000 pigs, putting over $6M Bz into the local economy. Over 75% of the pigs originated in the Orange Walk Mennonite Community of Shipyard. Other communities with large swine production are Spanish Lookout and Barton Creek in Cayo District and Little Belize up north. Seven slaughter facilities handle between 90-95% of the hog slaughtering. All fresh (unprocessed ) pork meat sold in Belize is of local origin. Belizeans consume approximately 10 lbs of pork per capita annually. Local producers are not able to meet the demands for processed pork products year…

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Corn Smut or Huitlacoche.

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We are back to mushrooms this issue and we will discuss a species which is commonly considered a pest of corn production but happens to be good to eat. In a way, I am trying to appeal to, not only the mycophiles among our readers but also to our Belizean corn growers who might find the diversification of growing a valuable product that could have appeal locally among the Mestizo population and also be exported to Central America and the United States, financially rewarding. Ustilago maydis (Ustilaginaceae) has the distinction of being the organism that causes a highly prized edible delicacy and a much reviled disease. (Check out the photograph I got, without permission (sorry!), from: Issues in new crops…

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Cooperatives And Associations: A Possible Driving Force For Rural Economic Development

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Unlike other developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Belize’s cooperative movements and associations have been instrumental organizations in rural development. In agreement with author, Acosta Pinto, 2009, cooperatives provide the opportunity for poor people to increase their incomes; they are democracies empowering people to own their own solutions; they increase security for their members; and they contribute directly and indirectly to primary education for children, gender equality and reducing child mortality. In past years few developmental agencies, NGOs, bilateral or multilateral organizations have supported agricultural development. Even fewer agencies defended, promoted or supported agricultural cooperatives. At the same time, very few governments continued to see rural cooperatives as important tools for development and allies in the fight against…

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Pallet Garden

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Love to grow your own vegetables/herbs, but low on space? Challenged by the thought of buying expensive pots for pot gardening? Want containers that will be within your budget, locally available and can look nice?Concerned about water bills associated with gardening and managing pest problems? Why not try a pallet planter! Several web sites provide information on making pallet planters, composting and companion planting. This planter was made using a damaged pallet with empty horse feed bags stapled to the underside and bottom to keep in the soil. An extension at the top held additional soil. Home composted “soil” filled the planter and provided a good nutrient value medium for higher plant density. On 24 March, marigold, carrots (short root…

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Belize National Organic Council (BNOC) Working towards strengthening the organic sector in Belize

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The Belize National Organic Council (BNOC) was formed during an elective process conducted at the First National Organic Forum held in Belmopan on November 11th of 2011.The event was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). The council is composed of seven members whose representatives are from the private and productive sectors. Their main objective is to serve as the entity that will support farmers in organic production and development and also work along with the ministry to promote research, capacity building, promotion and certification in organics. In a meeting held by BNOC in Punta Gorda, a decision was taken to endorse the Belize Organic Alliance (BOA) local certification scheme…

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Launching the Slow Food Movement in Belize

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Slow Food International (SFI) was started in 1998 by Italian journalist Carlo Petrini who saw the proliferation of the western diet and the fast food industry as a threat to the environment, health and cultural traditions both in Italy and around the world. Today, the movement has local chapters called convivia(to reflect the community spirit of the organization) in over 140 countries with projects such as the Ark of Taste and Presidia, to protect endangered traditional foods and Terra Madre, a biennial gathering of farmers, food producers, indigenous peoples, youth and cooks from around the world in Turin Italy. SFI is active in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and now, also in Belize. The first event was a simple…

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Beyond The Backyard – The Power Of Peas

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These days it is so hard to know what to eat, what to believe and what to do to make a difference globally. June brought us World Oceans Day designed to educate the public about overfishing and the need for conservation and respect of our marine life as an important food source. Adhering to imposed seasons and restrictions for marine life and wild animals, assessing supply and demand can greatly assist this concern. However the fact remains that eating habits need to change. Obesity, cancers and behavioral problems can be mostly attributed to what we give or do not give to our bodies. If it costs a tlot of money it is probably not very healthy and your system really…

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Callaloo, the Wonder Green

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Callaloo may be growing in your garden. It is a vigorous annual plant that grows like a weed and thrives in tropical environments. At least one variety known as ‘pig weed’ is considered to be a nuisance by some farmers who have not yet discovered it is edible and keep trying to kill it when they could be enjoying eating it! It is a favorite green leafy vegetable widely consumed throughout the Caribbean region. Callaloo is technically known as Amaranth Tricolor (though it is green) or Amaranth gangeticus. The genus Amaranthusconsists of about sixty species so far identified. Some varieties such as Amaranthus ruentusand Amaranth hypchondiacusare grown for edible seed production. This article focuses on the edible leafy variety of…

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Brix Means Quality

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High brix plants are healthier; their produce tastes better, is more nutritious, has a longer shelf life and brings the farmer a higher price. In Belize, the citrus community may be the best acquainted with the brix system, as growers are paid based on pounds solid and the brix measurements of their fruit. Almost a hundred and fifty years after its inception, a growing number of fruit, vegetable, grain and pasture professionals have learned to pay attention and utilize this rating system to improve their products and their paychecks. Ongoing research continues to underline the importance of brix for growers, processers, vendors and consumers. What is the BRIX system? Although commonly referred to as a measure of sugars, (sugars comprise…

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Exciting Belize-Guatemala Trade Partnership

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Agro-productivity growth happens when you can sell your farm crops, have a little left over, raise the living standard and increase development; and agro-productivity in Belize is growing at a rapid pace. Guatemala is a natural outlet for our corn, beans of all types and cattle (to name some products). Of course our traditional crops of citrus, bananas, and especially sugar are also influenced by our western neighbors. We are excited to hear about the Green Tropics sugar development in the Cayo District. We wish them the best. This means jobs, the opportunity to grow cane, increase tax revenue, and foreign exchange earnings, a win- win-win situation. Guatemala and Belize have been sharing territory for a few thousand years, before…

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