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Issue 24

Featuring: Mighty Moringa; Using Cassava Flour; Goats; Belize Livestock Producers Association & Expanding The Rice Industry.

Issues, Challenges and Options for Belize’s Agricultural Sector

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Agriculture plays an important role in Belize’s economy, contributing almost 14% to GDP, about 50% to export earnings and provides a significant base for employment and income generation in the rural areas. In the last decade (2003 – 2012), the growth of the agricultural sector averaged over 4% per year but there was negative growth in five years during the decade. In 2012, both the economy and the agricultural sector recovered significantly, expanding by more than 5% and 15% respectively. A review of policies and strategies and the many studies done on Belize’s agriculture during the last 25 years indicate that there is no shortage of recommendations on what needs to be done to facilitate the long term growth of…

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To The Editor

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Response to Development of Corn, Issue 23 page 17 Dear Editor, In his article titled, “The Development of Corn”, Mr. O’Brien states, “In the field of agriculture, hybrid corn is one of the greatest marketing success stories of all time.” I agree with this statement and I think that if he were still alive, the late soil scientist, William Albrecht, Ph.D, would also agree with this statement. In studying Albrecht’s papers, however, the reader would find that Albrecht explained how simply measuring yield does not take into account the nutritional value of the crop. In Volume II of his papers, Chapter 4, “THE LOW QUALITY AS NUTRITION AND HIGH YIELD OF BULK DEMONSTRATE THEIR MATHEMATICALLY CLOSE RELATION”, Albrecht reports that…

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Fertilizers: What & How They Work

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Belize City, Jan. 13th , 2014: Most everyone thinks of fertilizers as some chemicals made in a factory and used by farmers and gardeners to feed plants and crops. This is what we call a half-truth. There are many kinds of fertilizers and their use is varied. Some are natural, meaning we mined them from nature and use them as such, or mankind, using different manufacturing processes, refines and concentrates the natural, mined fertilizer into a product with more value added. The by-products of humans and animals as well as plants are also used as fertilizers by farmers, and have been used for over 10,000 years since the dawn of agriculture. In addition, there are slow-release fertilizers and instant –soluble…

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Milestone Project Handover TTM to MNRA Thank You, ROC Taiwan

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After an impressive list of assistance to Belize, the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) signed over three important projects including the assets associated with them to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA). In his speech at the signing ceremony on November 27, 2013, the ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. David Wu, reported 472 families directly benefitted from TTM’s projects; 175 families assisted with training and loans; 24 farmers graduated in November, 2013 from their formal training in food safety and good pesticide use; 700 farmers trained in horticulture practices to improve quality and reduce costs produced over $1.3 million of vegetables and fruit; 517 women’s groups helped; and other noteworthy results of the efforts of TTM.…

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Beyond The Backyard – Just Kidding

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High on the hill was a lonely goat herd..” A very, happy, catchy song that got me wondering why we do not see more goats. It is claimed that goat is one of the most eaten meats in the world yet we hardly ever see one here, let alone find someone who has ever tasted it. We see a lot of those long legged unkempt Barbados black bellies roaming freely in villages and I believe some Dorper in Cayo. Those are sheep and come with a distinct indicator: the tail hangs down. Goats have a perky tail pointing up, unless sick or in distress. Most sheep have wooly fleece although some tropical breeds have hair not wool; goats have hairy…

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Pesticide Control Board (PCB) Celebrates 25 th Anniversary

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The impetus for the establishment of the PCB was the export of bananas as a result of an exportation act adopted by the government in 1985. Although 14 members were to comprise the board, it as not until 1988 that funding allowed the hiring of a staff for its administration. Annual funding of $500,000 is supplemented by license fees and a 2% importation fee of all pesticides. Licensing, which began in 1989, used to be by ingredient but by 1995, it was switched to brand. The board still has 14 members: 4 come from Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), Ministry of Health, Department of The Environment and Belize Agriculture and Health Authority (BAHA); 4 from large agro-producer/grower associations…

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Addicted To Round Up

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Globally, the use of pesticides and herbicides has become commonplace. Alarmingly, the usage is doubling every five years exponentially. In 1990, 35 million liters of pesticides were sprayed on fields in the US alone; this past year (2013) over 300 million liters were sprayed! In an article from the 5th October 2013 Amandala, “Trade Gap Expands”: “$1 of each $5 dollars of imports is attributed to consumer goods, the largest expense in this category being pesticides, medicines, cigarettes and vitamin supplements”. Chemicals are often applied by spray (e.g., from backpacks or airplanes), where aerosol can be dispersed by wind or overspray can runoff into aquatic ecosystems. Sprayed chemicals enter the transpiration cycle and are taken up high into the atmosphere…

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Sustainable Harvest International- Belize (SHIB) Agricultural Training in Toledo and South Stann Creek

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After an extensive 5 year training program, 15 Toledo and Stann Creek farmers were awarded certificates of completion at the Organic Fair in Punta Gorda in October, 2013. Although the core training, based on principles of environment, agro-ecology, food sovereignty, improvement of livelihood and learning capacity, is the same, the farmers receive customized training based on their needs. For example, families have a work plan that focuses on the first two phases of work, with focus on family nutrition, sustainable and holistic farming (includes soil conservation, reduction or elimination of external inputs), diversification, improved ecosystems, and sustainable livelihoods. SHIB’s mission is to provide farming families in Belize with the training and tools to preserve our planet’s tropical forests while overcoming…

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Spanish Lookout’s Expanding Rice Industry Belize Ag Report visits with Tropical Country Rice

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Tropical Country Rice (TCR), the company behind the rice label of the same name, supplies about 40% of the domestic rice market. Their milling facility is based in Spanish Lookout, with rice fields located within that Mennonite farming community and other lands in Cayo District. Two other Mennonite communities, Blue Creek and Ship Yard, both in the Orange Walk District, grow and handle a bit more of the market share and the remainder of rice production is cultivated for most part by smaller farmers in Toledo District. Total domestic rice consumption in Belize is estimated to be approximately 1.8M lbs/month (21.6M lbs/year). Overview About 4,500 acres of rice are grown by approximately 30 farmers who utilize TCR to mill and…

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A Good Fungus?

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Many are familiar with the potato blights of Ireland and France that wiped out the potato harvests, rotting the tubers close to harvest, which changed the course of history drastically. PHTOPTHERA by name, which means PLANT DESTROYER, was the fungal villain causing those famines. Does a good fungus exist, one that can help plants? Yes, absolutely yes. In the news of late, we read of ‘good bacteria’ located in our stomachs and intestines, being responsible for people’s immune system – some credit up to 90% of our body’s ability to fight off diseases, being related to these gut bacteria. Similarly, we also read of plants’ abilities to fight off diseases, protected by elements in the soil. As with the bacteria…

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