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Issue 23

Featuring: Citrus Industry Changes; Mamey Sapote, Gluten Free Grains, Panela Vs Sugar & Cohune Nut Coal.

Belize’s ‘Green Coal’: The Multi-Purpose Cohune Nut

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The cohune palm tree, Attalea cohune,familiar to Belizeans, produces a nut about 6 inches in diameter in huge heavy clusters, weighing about 100 pounds. One tree can have several of these clusters. The nuts have been used by the Mayas, and in more modern times, by other Belizeans for fuel and oil. The kernels are 65 to 70 percent oil, but they amount to about 6% of total weight. The nuts are unusually hard and difficult to crack and their collection and transportation can also be difficult; so commercial oil recovery has been relatively undeveloped. Peter Singfield, who lives in Xaibe, Corozal District, developed an oil extraction system using a conventional oil expressor. First the nuts need be heat treated…

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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.   Dear Editor, Biologically Appropriate Technology or GMO Biologically appropriate technology is designed to do no harm to the environment – the air, water and soil. It is working with nature, not against it. It is learning from and respecting nature. Having been an environmental journalist turned anti-nuclear/pro-renewable energy activist, I am seeing similar patterns in the debate over GMO corn as existed in the nuclear debate. The parallels lie in how the public was sold on nuclear power back when…

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Positive Changes In The Citrus Industry

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The Belize Citrus Industry was started in 1913 and this year marks its 100th anniversary. Congratulations! The industry has grown to be of major economic importance in Belize. There are now about 45,000 acres of citrus groves and the industry represents 4% of GDP, accounts for 22% of major export earnings, and directly benefits 10,000 people and indirectly 50,000 people. The Belize Citrus Industry is facing many of the same challenges as other agricultural sectors including increased costs of fuel and fertilizers, global changes in trade with price fluctuations, natural disasters and climate change, and pests and diseases. The industry has survived many of these challenges. Today it faces an additional one: the devastating Citrus Greening Disease, also known as…

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The Soil & Agriculture

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Agriculture as we know it has been with us for over eight thousand years. Science first became evident with the ancient Mayas, Peruvians, Persians, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians some two to three thousand years ago. These ancient peoples knew how to grow healthy crops with high yields and feed some 50,000 to 300,000 persons in cities with very good sanitation and running water. However, after the year 1,100 AD all this knowledge was lost to humanity because their civilizations collapsed. It was not until the middle to late 1800’s that Von Liebig and Julius Hansel both of Germany brought science back into agriculture with their works on soils. Then between the period 1930 to late 1950’s two Americans, Professor Emeritus…

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“Feed the Soil” Theme of 2013 Organic Fair

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The old method of slash and burn for farming is being replaced with slash and mulch by the farmers in Toledo and Stann Creek who have seen the dramatic increase in corn crop yields in side-by-side field experiments. The results of the experiment reported at the 5th annual Organic Fair held in Punta Gorda on October 25 and 26 also included increases in organic matter, water retention and carbon content of the soil based on soil analysis before and after the experiment. The theme, Feed the Soil,was emphasized by every speaker at the event including Mr. Burton Caliz whose organic farm was toured by the attendees. In addition to mulching, the soil in southern Belize is being enriched by reforestation…

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Beyond The Backyard – A Grain of Truth

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We have become used to the labels fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, nut free; now gluten freeseems to be the latest trend. On the one hand we realize that the food industry is a business; so selling the idea that you need or suffer from something is inevitable. On the other hand we must consider the fact that incorrect labeling or secret ingredients for some people can become a matter of life and death. At a recent cocktail party two people said they were allergic to shrimp, one to oysters, two to nuts, one is lactose intolerant, one to the polymers of surgical gloves and four out of the ten were on gluten free diets. One may have celiac…

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Agro-Processing Project Review

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Agro-Processing, one of the four core projects of the Technical Mission of The Republic of China (ROC) (Taiwan), begun in 1999, held its annual meeting on September 6, 2013 at the pavilion of the National Ag and Trade Show (NATS) grounds in Belmopan. The project, which is funded by the International Cooperation and Development Fund of the ROC (Taiwan ICDF), is headed by Mr. Carson Huang, who recounted project activities including making almost 800,000 dried fruit snack packs (from over 400 tons of rejected export fruits: pineapple, banana, and papaya) that supported the school lunch program in Belize 2006 to 2010, organizing and training over 21 groups (over 600 women) that have been formed throughout the country over the last…

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Soil Structure, Strength and Consistency

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The major objective in preparing the soil for the cultivation of any crop is having good soil preparation as the medium for plant growth. We can have good soil and make it poor as well as poor soil and make it good. Aside from the fertility which is a measure of the chemical nutrients, we need to create favourable physical conditions for the plants. These conditions are consistency, soil strength and soil structure. These three characteristics of good soils allow the presence and movement of air and water in the soil as well as provide sites for storage/release of nutrients for the plants. Good soil structure creates a good environment for the holding of water and air in the soil.…

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Thiessen Liquid Fertilizer’s Rice Trials

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Rice production is expanding in greater Spanish Lookout and Cayo District, with almost 4,000 acres currently under cultivation by the Mennonites. Thiessen Liquid Fertilizer ran trials comparing rice qualities, costs and yields between crops grown with their liquid product versus those receiving traditional dry fertilizers. 6.6 acres received dry and 8.9 acres received Thiessen Liquid. As shown in the chart below the rice receiving Thiessen Liquid did better in 3 ways: There were more pounds per bushel. (Corn is measured in 56lb bushels; soy in 60 lb bushels; and rice bushels are measured by volume not pound.) The rice which received the dry gave 36.3 lbs/bushel, whereas the rice which received the liquid gave 38.1 lbs/bushel. The increase in weight…

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BEL-CAR UPDATES

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Lower Prices but Record 1.3M Cwt. Corn Harvest for Greater Spanish Lookout/Banana Bank Farms CORN: Cayo’s corn harvest for 2013 broke all previous records, with approximately 1.3 M Cwt. (1.3 million 100 lb sacks) harvested from combined acreages of Spanish Lookout’s Mennonite farmers and Banana Bank. Shortly after farmers harvested the final acreages from the approximately 30,000 acres, rains pelted the area flooding bridges and closing roads. The corn this year had been a little later than normal by about 1-2 weeks, due to later planting than usual (weather related). Some expressed surprise and relief that the quality had not been more affected, due to unusual weather, for example, rains coming prior to harvesting at the end of September. The…

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