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Issue 18

Featuring: Flame Weeding; Raising Sheep; Impact Permits Explained; Black Pepper At The Spice Farm & Cocoa Powder.

Visit a Tropical Kerala (India) Spice Farm… right here in Golden Stream, Toledo District

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Presenting The Belize Spice Farm & Botanical Gardens One of the delights of being a writer for the Ag Report is discovering and exploring fascinating and diverse individuals and farms within Belize’s borders. One of the very richest agricultural veins we have struck is The Belize Spice Farm and its owners, Dr. Thomas Mathews and Mrs. Tessy Mathews. Having purchased a packet of their potent and fresh Golden Stream Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) a few years ago in Punta Gorda Town, we set out to meet the owners of this farm and tour it, for the paper. As Dr. & Mrs. Mathews are often absentee landlords, this proved an elusive task, but certainly worth the wait. The Mathews had visited…

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To The Editor

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Hi Beth, I read your latest Belize ag report and enjoyed your Brix article. I have a refractometer made by Pike Industries (Pike Agri-Lab Supplies, Inc.**) and have used it for many years. When doing grasses or dryer materials you will need a hand held garlic press from the kitchen. With our dry summers testing grass in July August proves a challenge but the press solves the problem. On my old ranch in Manitoba I grew a crop of cereal Rye, and rented the field next to it to another local farmer who also grew rye. Mine was organically grown his commercially with chemicals. I grazed mine with sheep for 3 weeks while the plant was young and it went…

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Blue Creek Cowboys Take the Lead

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On July 25 th , 2012 The Blue Creek Cattle Committee started a pilot testing program. This included testing for brucellosis, tuberculosis and putting identification tags in each ear. These numbers with statistics are being entered into the National Computer System located at the Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA) office. The Blue Creek cattle men had good corrals and only had to rope 15 head at one farm. While a few cattle had to be re-checked for some reactors, on the following tests they proved to be clean of brucellosis and TB infections. Most of us never thought our cattle had these problems, but it is a very comforting to be proven clean. This pilot program was assisted by Belize…

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An Overview of the Import Permit Application Process for Agricultural Commodities

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The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) has been designated as the competent authority for agricultural health and food safety. This means BAHA is in charge of all those aspects related to veterinary services, plant protection, quarantine procedures, and regulations for safe and wholesome foods. In essence, the role of the organization is to mitigate risks associated with these broad roles. All these services are arranged into two main categories of work: export compliance and import regulations. This article focuses on the latter aspects of our work. With the creation of BAHA in 2000, the Government of Belize decided to streamline the process of importation of agricultural commodities. The importation process can be a very complicated one under certain conditions and…

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Fighting Weeds With Fire

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Flaming Provides Alternative Weapon in War on Weeds Wedding the proficiency of the flame with the compressed liquid power of propane has served many farmers and food producers well over the past century. Flame weeding (also referred to as flaming) has been an apt option for organically ridding row crops and fields of uninvited weeds while also replenishing the soil with nutrients from the resulting carbon. According to the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticide, the first agricultural flame weeder was patented in 1852. Flame weeding is done by generating intense heat through a chosen device — whether it is a handheld torch or tractor-mounted — that sears the leaves of the weeds, which causes the cell sap to expand,…

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Beyond The Backyard – Spud Bucket

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We tried to run a restaurant offering only local produce; however one of the items which caused major issues was the potato. Knowing the plight of the potato farmers in Belize I thought I should support them but also use cocoa yam, cassava, dasheen and sweet potatoes which grow very well here. The potato originally came from South America, taken to Europe where it was viewed with much skepticism, and it has been popularized only in the past 200 years, becoming a staple comfort food offered in many forms throughout the world. Although the food industry is somewhat trendy and items such as sweet potato fries are currently gracing the tables of North American restaurants, the favourite is still the…

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Pasture Planning

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Planning more pasture for next season? The choice of grass to plant depends on the animals you intend to graze there. For example, the choice for cattle is Brizantha, Humidicola and/or Mombasa. On the other hand, the top choices for horses are Tanzania, new hybrid “Aires” and Mombasa. All of these grasses have their origin in Africa. All have been tried and tested extensively in Belize. All are perennial. (The two legumes mentioned further into this article originate from South America. ) Bryzantha (Brachiaria brizantha) is highly resistant to pests, particularly grasshoppers and a pasture lasts 5 to 7 years before needing reseeding. It has a high germination rate of approximately 90%. Seeds germinate in 8 days and the pasture…

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Fertigation (Fertilization + Irrigation) Workshop

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The Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA) in collaboration with the ROC (Taiwan) Technical Mission (TTM) held a 2-day workshop on 25-26 July on the University of Belize, Central Farm campus, to introduce the efficient and effective application of soluble fertilizer for plant use through irrigation systems. Mr. Melanio Pech, OIC Central Farm, Dr. Wang Tzeng Huoy, Chief of TTM, and Mr. Eugene Waight, Chief Agriculture Officer MNRA, spoke of the importance of the event in their opening remarks. Mr. Ricardo Thompson, Principal Agriculture Officer, NMRA, moderator of the workshop, used the event to express best wishes to retiring Mr. Melanio Pech for his 38 years of service. In his basic concepts presentation, Mr. Maynor Hernandez, Dir. Research NMRA,…

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Increasing Yields With Sulfur By Cory Schurman, Sr. Agronomy Manager, Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers

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Sulfur deficiencies are becoming common throughout the world. The primary reason is that in the past, soils received 15-25 pounds of sulfur (S) per acre, per year from emissions from the burning of coal, and from sulfur dioxide emissions in fuels. Now with coal plants having scrubbers, and with the use of lower sulfur fuels, and overall concern for environmental quality world-wide, growers are typically now getting much less sulfur in a year on each acre. At the same time yield levels have risen, increasing the need for sulfur, so growers are seeing increasing shortages of this secondary nutrient. The following is a list of the roles sulfur plays in plant growth and production. Helps develop enzymes and vitamins in…

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BEL-CAR Updates

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Corn Corn harvest for the greater Spanish Lookout area growers is in full swing with approximately 800 to 1,200 more acres having been planted than last year. More acreage was anticipated; however there were adverse weather conditions at planting time. The yield projections are being watched closely, with regards to soil types. Usually the red type soil yields more per acre than the black dirt. This year it appears that corn planted in the black dirt may yield more. About one third of the overall Spanish Lookout corn is planted on black soil, and this harvest is almost done. Farmers are now watching the harvest yield of the corn planted in red soil, which is easier to work as it…

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