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Issue 25

Featuring: Panama Disease in Bananas; Endangered Birds; Health Benefits Of Honey; Citrus Greening; Asparagus & Tamarind.

Stubeef Jerky Returns To the Delight of Former Customers

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Although still a young man, Stuart Doley has been making jerky for decades. Growing up in Virginia (USA), he made venison jerky from deer that he hunted. In university he continued refining his recipes and techniques making jerky in a small dehydrator for himself and friends. It is not surprising that soon after his arrival in Belize in 2010 he was at it again, turning local grass-fed beef into beef jerky. Using Running W meats he tested the local market under the trade name STUBEEF JERKY Just as his market here was taking off, Stuart detoured to Barcelona, Spain for an MBA degree. He and his Belizean fiancé returned to Cayo District early in 2013 to tie the knot and…

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To The Editor

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Dear Editor, ORGANIC….What does that really mean? Having been involved in organic agriculture for many years, I believe that ‘organic’ is more than just agriculture; it is a commitment to a lifestyle. ‘Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food’, quoting Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, known as ‘the father of modern medicine’. Decades of research has established the definite link between illness and diet. The counter-culture of the ‘back to the land’ generation of the 1960s, turned into the organic agriculture industry of the 1970’s until our present day. But does eating only food grown without synthetic chemicals tell the whole story? Why does organic food cost more? Because it is more labor intensive.…

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Roots and Shoots Mini Ag Fair in Consejo, Corozal

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A small local garden club called Roots and Shoots is a special interest group with members from around the Corozal area. Most of our members have simple gardens, grow flowers, shrubs and fruit trees, and some have small vegetable gardens, and a few have small farms. The club meets every second Monday to discuss various topics of gardening in the tropics, listen to an invited speaker or member of the club or visit members’ gardens. Our club has had many field trips to Cayo, Toledo, Stan Creek and Orange Walk Districts visiting nurseries and farms. We’ve also attended The National Agriculture Fair in Belmopan and Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) Organic Fair in Punta Gorda. On 31 March 2014, Roots and…

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Citrus Greening

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Belize City, April 28 th , 2014: Currently Belize has about 42,000 acres of land devoted to citrus groves. Over the last couple of years, Huang Long Bin (HLB) – yellow shoot disease or citrus greening – has caused several thousand acres of groves to be abandoned and now less than 400 citrus farmers are active. This is down from a high of about 1,000 + farmers a few years ago. According to the schoolmen, the disease is caused by a bacterium that inhabits the phloem (energy conducting tissues) of the tree and so far has affected all citrus varieties. The bacterium is transmitted by an insect pest called the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri. No data exists to show…

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2014 International Year of Family Farming Lots of Positive Change for the Future

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The United Nations has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming bringing attention to the importance of family farmers, including smallholder farmers, and their role in helping to nourish the world. The celebration is also aptly timed; it is reported that nearly 900 million people go to bed hungry every night and the global population is expected to reach more than nine billion people by the year 2050. The world will need to not only increase agricultural production, but to engage in agricultural practices that are more efficient and environmentally sustainable. Smallholder farmers are in a unique position to contribute to the global food supply, but empowering smallholder and family farmers is a vital step toward improving nutrition,…

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Beyond The Backyard – “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside”

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People ask me, “What is your favourite thing that grows in your garden?” Without hesitation I say, “Asparagus” which surprises them – that it actually grows here in the tropics. I walk out most mornings and check the patch in hopes of a few delicate shoots to eat, raw and delicious. For me this is the best way and feels very healthy as it is rich in all kinds of nutritious vitamins, A, C, E, B12 and K, plus minerals and antioxidants. It is low in calories with no fat, no cholesterol, and no sodium. First off I always consider what it can do for one’s health. It is a good source of fiber, a natural diuretic, improves mental ability,…

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Bananas in Danger: TR4 Panama Disease

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The next time you bite into a banana, take a moment to savor the delicious treat. With its sweet, consistent taste and creamy texture, it is no wonder that bananas are the world’s most popular fruit. What most do not realize as they are peeling away its golden skin to devour the scrumptious pulp is that bananas are in danger. A serious fungal disease threatens to devastate the world-wide banana industry. The culprit: Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. Cubense , which causes Fusarium wilt or Panama disease, particularly Tropical Race 4. According to ProMusa, an organization dedicated to promoting banana industry news and science, the fungus survives in the soil and “enters the plant through the roots and colonizes the xylem vessels…

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Tamarind

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The tamarind tree is a leguminous tree (a tree which bears pods). Tamarind fruit in pods, or hulled is available in farmers’ markets around Belize from January – April. The tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), a member of the Fabaceae family, is an evergreen tree which has become increasingly popular in Belize and Central America. Other names for the tamarind tree include: Indian date (tamar-hindi), or tamarindo. The origin of this leguminous tree is in East Africa, particularly in the Sudan where the tree grows wild. The fruit was well-known to the ancient Egyptians, and also to the Greeks as far back the fourth-century B.C. Its origin is also traced to India where is it well-known and prolifically cultivated. Taiwan, southern…

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World Market Prices for Citrus Growers

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Last year, according to figures from Citrus Products of Belize, Ltd. (CPBL), 385 growers delivered fruit to the processing facility. Orange production was 4 M cxs from a claimed 30,000 acres with an average of 130 cxs per acre. The industry has never achieved an average of 400 cxs per acre. When we delivered 7 M cxs from 40,000 acres, 8 years ago, the average was 175 cxs per acre. Some few groves had production of 400 cxs per acre. It was never an industry wide figure, as low prices prevented growers from affording the necessary inputs. Even with the same inputs our harvest figures for Valencia are different depending on rootstock. Our 18 year old Valencia are on Sour…

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Soil Conditioners

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Previous articles in the Belize Ag Report have addressed the need for soil amendments which are those things added to soils to make up a deficiency or to improve the quality of soils. They include a wide range of organic and non-organic materials with different effects. This article deals with soil conditioners or beneficially changing the soil. A soil conditioner is a type of amendment that is added mostly to improve the soil’s physical qualities and thereby enhance the chemical properties, especially the ability to retain moisture and provide food for plants. Soil conditioners improve poor soils, rebuild damaged soils, and can be used to maintain soils in peak condition. Organic soil conditioners include plant and animal wastes –compost, biochar,…

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