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Issue 32

Deforestation in Belize: Why Does the Agriculture Sector Need Standing Forests?

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Belize has lost more than 770,000 acres of forest since 1980, which is almost equivalent to the area of the entire Belize District. According to a report published by CATHALAC (Spanish acronym for Humid Tropics Water Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean, based in Panama), between 1980 and 2010 approximately 25,000 acres (more than 7 times the area of Belize City) of forests were cleared every year in Belize. According to another study produced by Belizean expert Emil Cherrington, in 2013, 33,000 acres of forest were lost in the Jewel, and in 2014 that number rose to 36,000 acres, which shows an increase in the deforestation rate. That trend has continued during the last 2years. CATHALAC and University of…

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To the Editor

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Dear Editor, We felt to express our deep appreciation that Belize has not been accepting genetically modified (GMO) crops into the country. We understand that through modern biotechnology, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are being created that may use animal, virus, or bacteria genes to alter DNA or genetic material in vegetables and other things. These alterations are impossible to achieve from natural pollination or crop breeding, and must be produced in sophisticated genetic laboratories. The resulting “organisms” are then patentable property of the large corporations creating them. Someone has coined a thought provoking an alternative term for GMO: “God move over”. In other words, do humans consider themselves wiser than our all-wise omnipotent Creator? Are human beings better able and…

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Green Banana Recipe Competition

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Green Banana Recipe Winners! In our February Belize Ag Report (issue #31), writer Harold Vernon challenged readers to enter original recipes using green bananas in a contest. Harold’s plea for Belizeans to eat this very neglected, nutritious, tasty and cheap starch source stimulated some excellent recipe entries. Below find the winning recipes. More recipes are included in our online version. The contest winners for the most original and best tasting recipes are Miss Paige Dietrich of Unitedville, Cayo District, and Mrs. Deborah Harder of Upper Barton Creek, Cayo District, Youth and Adult categories, respectively. Each receives a $50.00 prize. Thank you, Sally Thackery, Belize Ag Test Kitchen Supervisor and kudos to Harold Vernon for your instigation and prize donation. Thank…

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Restoration of the San Ignacio Town Clock

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Working on various community projects focused on refurbishing the San Ignacio Police Station in 2014, I became curious as to why the San Ignacio Town Clock wasn’t working. I recalled that when I emigrated to San Ignacio in 1982 that it did work. I began to ask citizens why the clock wasn’t working. Many said they didn’t know or cited its age as the probable cause. Unsatisfied and more curious than ever, I finally got some information from “Jr” Simmons, owner of the venerable Hy-Et Hotel, on the corner of West Street and Bullet Tree Road. He said that the clock and four or five others just like it were gifts from Great Britain to the soldiers of British Honduras,…

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Update on the Sugar Industry Management Information System (SIMIS)

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In March 2016 a total of 74,258.87 acres of sugar cane fields under production have been verified in the northern sugar belt of Belize. From data collected it has been analyzed that cane variety B79474 remains the most dominant variety accounting for 60% of total area under production. This is followed by B52298 representing 17% and Belize Barbados Varieties (9 BBZ varieties) account for 4% of total area verified. All other varieties are reported as small quantities and available in more detail on the SIMIS database and represented on pie chart. Another valuable item of information collected was the spatial distribution of sugar cane fields regarding the actual size of each parcel. Data shows that small parcels between 0.1 to…

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Importance of Biological Control and its Role in Managing Huanglongbing (HLB) in Belize

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Figure 1: Adult Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and nymphs (Warnert, 2013) [above] Contributors:  Ing. Helen Theresa Choco, Manuel Garcia, Veronica Manzanero-Majil             The presence of the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), a tiny insect about 4 mm in size (figure 1) was first detected in Belize in 2005. Later, in 2009, the presence of Huanglongbing (HLB) (formerly citrus greening) was confirmed in Belize. ACP is the most efficient vector responsible for the spread of HLB in the Americas. Considering the potential gravity of HLB based on experiences from other countries, the Citrus Research and Education Institute (CREI), the research arm of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) in collaboration with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), the…

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Sweet and Sour Dreams

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March 2015 ( not April Fools day) we are reading in the news that a thousand year old Anglo Saxon recipe found in the British Library that is actually ninety percent effective in the eradication of the superbug MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Following the directions to the letter, scientists concocted a stew of onions, leaks, and garlic, stewed in vintage wine and cows’ bile in a brass vessel for nine days to an amazing success. It may appear to be improbable that, after all, this time we are finding simple ingredients have the power to cure devastating diseases, but perhaps we need to pay more attention. For centuries folk healers around the world have claimed that God created plants…

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Introduction of the African Bee to South America and Belize

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The African honeybee (Apis mellifera adansonii) is a native of Africa, occupying roughly ¾ of the continent, from the Sahara Desert in the north to the Kalahari Desert in the south. In 1957, 26 swarms of African bees, held for scientific breeding studies in a apiary near Rio Claro, Brazil, escaped, starting the “Africanization” of bees and establishing themselves as feral swarms occupying now the whole of South America (except what seems to be their climatic limits south of 32o S. on Northern Argentina), Central America, Mexico and the states of Texas, California, New Mexico and Florida and parts of the Caribbean. The African bee has the same number of chromosomes (16 in drones and 32 for the queen) as…

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Limbe Lime

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Back in 1976, citrus farmers in southern Belize were in need of agricultural lime (ag lime or white lime) in order to improve the pH levels in their soils.  As result of numerous tests being done in limestone deposits in the Spanish Lookout area, Mr. Abraham L. Dueck discovered high quality lime that has come to benefit the farming industry tremendously over the years. Forty years later, the company he started is still in business, managed by his son Milton; Limbe delivers its agricultural lime to a host of farmers, including citrus, banana, corn, teak, and many others. It is also widely used in the aquaculture industry. Agricultural lime, or white lime, is essential to soil because it increases the soil’s…

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Understanding Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt)

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“Do you use chemicals on your vegetables?” is a question that the farmer selling directly to the customer is likely to hear. Often the farmer answers, “Only when necessary” or “No, I am organic”. For questions like this, it is hard to give an accurate answer because most farmers whether organic or not, use some form of chemicals on their farms. Some farmers that are strictly organic must avoid certain chemicals but are still likely using some “natural” forms that are considered non-toxic. The scientific definition of a chemical is any basic substance that is used in or produced by a  reaction involving changes to atoms or molecules.It is evident then, that chemicals include many things which may be harmful…

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