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Mar 29, 2017

SIB Reports: Exports Down in Fourth Quarter; Citrus Boom Not Felt Yet

The Statistical Institute of Belize confirms today that exports are significantly down. In the case of citrus which once placed as the number one export that industry has plummeted to fourth in the agro productive sector. That is the information from the SIB, which is in sharp contrast to pronouncements made by the man at the helm of the Ministry of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse. Tonight, News Five’s Isani Cayetano looks at the state of the industries.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Belize’s export earnings fell sharply in February 2017, as trade in citrus products declined by as much as forty-five percent.  That’s the equivalent of roughly four million dollars, down from almost nine million for the same period last year.

 

Tiffany Vasquez

Tiffany Vasquez, Statistician, SIB

“While rising shrimp exports for the period January to February 2017 led to a one point six million dollar growth in the marine category, earnings from citrus exports fell by five point eight million dollars, as a smaller crop and a late crop led for citrus’ slow start for 2017.  Nevertheless, export revenues for citrus are expected to improve as citrus exports continue to enjoy favorable prices on the world market.”

 

Those latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize earlier today, seemingly fly in the face of glowing remarks made by Minister of Agriculture Godwin Hulse during Monday’s senate debate.  While the Leader of Government Business raved about citrus nurseries at Red Bank, late crops have affected the overall output of citrus products onto the export market.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Leader of Government Business [File: March 28th, 2017]

“Citrus, citrus.  Not looking bad.  If you go and you look at the new nurseries that CPBL has put up in Red Bank there, fantastic and they’re doing an awesome job.  They are doing research into that to try to see how we can get on top of this greening, and yes again the greening.  Greening is something that I think we have to attack and I have tried to do that in the short time that I am Minister of Agriculture because there was too much infighting in the industry.”

 

When compared to 2016, the fall is rather significant since citrus went from being the number one source of profit for exports to becoming the fourth in the agro-productive sector.

 

Tiffany Vasquez

“For the period January to February of this year, banana was Belize’s greatest export earner at fifteen point one million dollars, followed by sugar at thirteen point six million, marine at eight point four million, citrus at six point four million and crude petroleum at five point eight million, while citrus ranked fourth for this year.  For the same period last year, citrus was Belize’s top export earner at twelve point two million dollars.”

 

Elsewhere, the primary sector also saw a decrease of a little over twelve percent during the last four months in 2016.  Banana shipments were down by thirty percent, from twenty-two thousand metric tons to sixteen thousand metric tons, as a result of Hurricane Earl.

 

Angelita Campbell

Angelita Campbell, Statistician, SIB

“Within the primary industry we have agriculture, hunting and forestry that decreased by roughly thirteen point nine percent.  Within that industry we had banana showing a decrease of roughly thirty percent and that was mainly due to the effects of Hurricane Earl and the exit of a major banana farm.  We have within that category of agriculture, hunting and forestry, we have livestock actually increasing at five percent.  We swine going up by two thousand, two hundred more heads being produced, while cattle went up by roughly thirteen hundred more heads being produced.  We also saw sugarcane delivery going up by roughly twenty-one percent. Fishing went down by roughly six point one percent because there was a decrease in marine exports over that period of roughly seventy-nine thousand dollars.”

 

Overall, the Belizean economy contracted by one point two percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.  While tertiary activities which include accommodation and food services are up, primary and secondary activities, as we’ve mentioned are both down. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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