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Issue 21

Featuring: Sorghum Production; Wonders Of Pineapple & Litchi Cultivation.

The Queen Honeybee

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A miracle in the beehive: this is the best way I can describe the Queen Honeybee. Her creation and design can only have come from above. Her life begins as an egg. It looks like any ordinary worker (female) egg in the cell of a honeycomb, white, and about the size of a thin mechanical pencil lead, no more than a 1/16” long. If the worker bees see that their queen is seriously failing in egg laying capacity or health, or they know the colony is about to swarm they will set about to raise a new queen. The worker bees may take an egg and put it into a queen cell which workers have constructed from beeswax or the…

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To The Editor

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Editor’s note: The Belize Ag Report acknowledges and respects the need for dialogue among the agricultural community. Publication of a letter or an article does not indicate endorsement by The Belize Ag Report of the views and content therein.   Greetings: I received no indication that my subscription had expired, so it lapsed. Assuming nothing has changed, I am enclosing my check for $30BZ for another year’s issues. If Belize is to survive as a country, it must do so on the strength of its agricultural base. Communication is the only way this base can be viable and effective, and to that end Belize Ag Report plays the key role. Its articles are professional and pertinent and should be the…

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Bt As Organic Spray

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Bt(bacterium thuringiensis) is accepted in certified organic applicationsas a spray. Bt normally exists in the environment and is concentrated for use as a controlling item in the caterpillar stage of a moth. Bt does not naturally penetrate the cellular wall of a plant cell. If a caterpillar consumes the cell, and the Bt is present on the exterior of the cell structure, then the Bt is active in the gut of the caterpillar, thus blocking the absorption of the nutriments of the cell that is consumed. The caterpillar has a very simple digestive tract that has only one purpose: consume and absorb the nutriments for energy to grow. Bt exists in all surroundings as a bacterium. This is the reason…

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International Seed Treaty A Hope to Reduce Global Conflict Over Genetic Resources

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On 29 June 2004 the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (popularly known as the International Seed Treaty) came into force. The treaty ensures that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are vital for human survival, are conserved and sustainably used, are kept accessible and in the public domain, and further, that benefits from their use are equitably and fairly distributed. The treaty was negotiated by 164 governments under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FOA) and was agreed by consensus by the FAO Conference on 3 November 2001. TheConvention on Biological Diversity has welcomed it as it covers the plant genetic resources of an exceptional set of…

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Beyond The Backyard – The Money Trees

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Aaromas and piquant flavours. The popularity of certain spices can be attributed to the practice of Humoral medicine gleaned from the ancient Greeks who taught that the balance of the major bodily fluids (humors) was the key to human health and emotions. Spices were used to stimulate the senses and it was this belief that fueled the quest for discovery and kept the spice trade booming. During medieval times Muslim traders controlled the maritime routes and, secreting their information, sold their cargoes to the middle men, the merchants of Venice. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire the Ottomans seized and blocked the trade routes, levying huge taxes on all. The Europeans not wanting to be controlled by non-Christians increased…

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The Anatomy of a Weed Killer Or How Glyphosate Kills Plant s

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More than 30% of all herbicides sprayed anywhere on the globe contain glyphosate—the world’s bestselling weed killer. The herbicide doesn’t destroy plants directly. Glyphosate itself is only slightly toxic to plants. The chemical sets up a set of conditions that accelerates disease-causing organisms in the soil, and at the same time wipes out plant defenses against those diseases. The mechanisms are well-documented but rarely cited: Glyphosate acts as a chelator of vital nutrients, depriving plants of the nutrients necessary for healthy plant function, Glyphosate destroys beneficial soil organisms that help plants absorb nutrients and that also suppress disease-causing organisms, Glyphosate interferes with photosynthesis, reduces water use efficiency, shortens root systems and causes plants to release sugars, which changes the pH…

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Energetic Agriculture & Fertilizers

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Plants do not live by fertilizers, but rather from the energy they receive from fertilizers. In other words, as long as plants receive energy they will live and grow until their cycle comes to an end and they return back to dust from whence they came. As I wrote in the March/April #20 issue of the Belize Ag Report, there are three different trains of thought about agriculture – organic, conventional and energeticagriculture. The approach to the use of fertilizers is a good example of the difference in thinking. The standard for all three is to take a soil test – a Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). The father of this standard test is the late William Albrecht, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor…

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Enhancing Quality and Relevance of the Curriculum – UB Central Farm Campus.

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The Agriculture Department of the University of Belize (UBCF) in partnership with three western Canadian community colleges, namely Lakeland, Bow Valley, and Parkland, has embarked on a project to further develop its curriculum over the next three years. The outcomes at this level include the development of teaching materials and tools, and the capacity to manage a program which will offer degrees in applied agriculture at the Associate and Baccalaureate levels. The new curriculum would be demand driven and designed to meet occupational standards of local industries and vocational standards of the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA). This initiative is the institutional development component of a wider project in CARICOM funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)…

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Sorghum (Milo) Production Expected to Surge – Corn Substitution & Favorable Export Prospects

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Sorghum bicolor, locally known as milo, was domesticated in northern Africa where it thrives in their harsh dry climate. Other names for it are durra or msumbija (Africa), jowar (India), Samshu (N. China) and kaoliang (Arabia). World leaders in sorghum production are Nigeria 12%, India 11%, Mexico 11% and the USA 10% (2011). Worldwide production has increased 66% in the last 50 years. People have relied extensively on flour and other food products from milo in Africa, northern China, Korea and India. Haiti consumes a popular sorghum grits-like porridge known as ‘pitim’. North American use is predominantly as a cattle feed. Belize usage has been mainly for livestock and that is quickly expanding into hog and chicken feeds, replacing the…

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Photosynthesis: Turning Sun’s Energy Into Corn

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Last year I was driving from San Antonio to my sheep ranch in Cayo District when I noticed for the first time that an area near the center of a hillside of plantains had turned yellow. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before. The plants had certainly not turned yellow overnight. People who know these things tell me that the term for yellow plants in these circumstances is chlorosis. The plants in that area of the field did not have enough chlorophyll, the pigment that all farmers know makes plants green. I had seen similar color changes in many different kinds of plants and in different circumstance. The question was why does this happen? Obviously, the plants were…

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