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Issue 37

Biochar Implementation in Agricultural Systems of Belize

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By Gerardo Ofelio Aldana  In addition to pressures to adapt to climate change, agricultural production demands include innovative and effective solutions to balance both food production and environmental sustainability (Lehmann and Joseph, 2015). Volatility in agricultural commodities, in parallel with population growth, have initiated an alarming concern as to whether the rates of agricultural production will be able to meet its future food demands. Recent years have shown an improvement in agricultural productivity, but future demands are uncertain, especially in light of environmental factors such as climate change (Sands et al., 2014). The climate problem is now extremely large and is drastically affecting our food production systems. What the future needs is solutions that will counteract a myriad of problems all…

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Old Crops Become New: Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batata) Part 2

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An Underutilised Tropical Root By Santiago Juan An Underutilized Root Sweet potato is a plant grown for its tuberous roots in tropical, subtropical and warm-temperate regions. As mentioned in the last Belize Ag Report, issue 36, sweet potato is cultivated for food in more than 100 countries, sometimes as a staple food but usually as an alternative food. All varieties of sweet potato are a good source of vitamins and minerals. In East Africa, the sweet potato is known as “the protector of children” because it is often the only food that stands between a child’s survival and starvation. A fast-maturing perennial plant, it is grown mainly as an annual. The roots are adventitious, mostly located within the top 25…

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Belmopan Weekend Farmers’ Market at NATS Grounds

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By Sally Thackery  The new pavilions at the Belmopan showgrounds are now open on Saturdays and Sundays for local farmers to sell their products to the public. Opening day, Saturday July 29, was lively and well-attended, by both the public and the market sellers. Big thanks to CEO Jose Alpuche and Show Grounds Coordinator Gary Ramirez for such a bright vision for this property at the entrance to Belmopan. The entire showgrounds have been cleaned up, mowed, landscaped with beautiful plants and vendor stalls have been colorfully painted. These detailed improvements also include a new entrance gate, bathrooms in all sections and designated parking areas.In addition to fresh vegetables, the market offers dry goods, eco-friendly cleaning products, fruit trees, flowering…

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SIRDI EU IPDM Project: Metarhizium anisopliae Production to Control Froghopper in Sugar Cane

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By Jeffy Gomez, Luciano Chi, Luis Gongora and Jian Cob    Froghopper is considered a major pest in sugarcane; every crop cycle it affects sugarcane farmers by increasing control costs while decreasing productivity. The problem is especially serious with the elimination of the preferential market for Belize’s sugar. Hence, it is of great importance to start adapting more environmentally-friendly controls by deterring the use of chemicals and meeting standards set by the Fairtrade market. With the assistance of the European Union (EU), the Government of Belize (GOB) and the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI), the project entitled “Strengthening of Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM) in the Sugar Industry” is being implemented in the northern sugar belt. The…

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Beyond the Backyard: Suck Your Way to Health

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By Jenny Wildman I came across an article about a strange fruit that can boost your brain function – something all seniors think of when they cannot remember names or misplace their glasses. The picture was that of the fruit known here as kenep, kinnip or guayo. The deciduous, polygamous kenep tree is part of the soapberry family along with logan, rambutan and lychee, all cousins to the northern chestnut. The scientific name is Melicoccus bijugatus commonly referred to as Spanish lime, quenepa, genip, chennet, talpajocote and mamoncillo from the verb mamar to suck. Kenep trees are native to South America and the Island of Margarita and also found in drier woodlands and gardens of the Caribbean and Central America.…

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Rice: Circle R’s Contribution to Food Security in Belize

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By Jeffrey Magaña The highest priority for Circle R Products Limited, a farmer-owned business, is food security for Belize. Their newest product, Dalla Rice, was recently introduced to provide a 14 oz. package of grade A rice for $1. Harvest for Kids is grade A premium rice; Jade is grade B; Ruby, grade C and Topaz, grade D. The Harvest for Kids product is named for the socially responsible project it supports. A percentage of the sale of all Harvest for Kids rice goes to support Belize Camping Experience in Belize City, summer Bible camps and work with kids in schools throughout the city. We believe that if our children are inspired today, our country can become a better place.…

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Fusarium spp.: An Important Disease of Soybeans

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By Felix Cawich, Agronomist, M.Sc. Worldwide, soybean is considered an important crop for the production of oil and as a source of protein for people and animals. In addition, it´s now being used for biodiesel production. According to the Worldwide Web Foundation (WWF), soybean production has grown 10 times in the last 50 years, covering over one million square kilometres. The increasing production area, like the increase in yield of monocultivation, has also led to higher presence of disease in soy plantations. Furthermore, the varying climate may favor rapid development of diseases. Important Diseases Diseases originating from different microorganisms can cause blights, cankers, rots, rusts, wilts and others, causing damage to different parts of the plant at any given growth…

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Fertility Needed for Growing Pastures and Hay

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By Neal Kinsey When the requirements for life-giving soil fertility to provide abundant plant growth and robust animal health are accurately considered, far too many pastures and hay fields used for livestock production are seriously lacking. Testing the soils in pastures and meadows has sadly proven this to be true far too often, even when only the absolute minimum nutrient content for those soils is considered. To treat your animals right you have to treat your soils right. Anything less and you rob from the total potential of life-giving principles for your soil, the plants grown there, the livestock that consume them and the products that are provided as a result. When soils are not cared for correctly, it is…

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