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Apr 12, 2018

Citrus Revamps after Diminishing Production

Belize’s citrus industry has been on the decline. Productivity has diminished significantly over the past years. This reduced production is consistent with global trends with global citrus producers in decline. It’s an industry that is critical to Belize’s economy – from a GDP and foreign exchange perspectives. So what’s the outlook for Belize’s citrus? According to Minister of Agriculture, while it is expected that Belize will be producing fewer boxes of citrus, than we have done in the past, the prices on the world market are still good so the sector is set to earn revenues for Belize. Hulse says that a number of initiatives are being explored including diversifying the citrus offerings by way of juices. Here’s why he says Belize’s citrus industry is not dead.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“I just had a little meeting yesterday with Henry Anderson, his technical people Miss Veronica and Mister Tate, on this very question. Let me start really at the top,  first of all, the Social Security Board has made funds available to citrus farmers to that they can replant; that has already been approved and that is on its way. They are also looking at into moving into pineapples, as well, because they want to reform that from just a citrus thing to a juice thing, so to speak.  That’s the first issue. The second issue, though, at the board level, AMBEV who is a major shareholder has appointed a new director to replace Henry Canton. I think his name is Jose Arias or something like that. AMBEV is now looking at how they can get a little bit more involved. They have been talking to a company called Prodalim, which is a big company in Europe. It is Israeli and also to be able to expand the capacity of the processing plant into other areas – tangerine, mangerines, pineapples, etc. The CGA themselves, through CREI, have a citrus nursery which they are not promoting, as I understand it HLB resistant varieties but tolerant varieties. In other words you will not be looking at seventy-five-year-old trees, but twenty-year-old trees, but they will be producing as they go along. And we are looking at how we can then manage the legislation to support that. I understand from Henry that this year we may be looking at two point nine to three million boxes, which you may know, a tremendous reduction but the prices are still good. I am not one of those persons at all who says the industry is dead; the same way I will say sugar is not dead or nothing is dead. Why? Because forever people will be, drinking juices; forever people will have orange juice. Brazil is struggling. Miami is struggling. Belize is struggling. But we have the wherewithal to ride over this. What it needs is that coordinated cooperative effort to go there and that is what the Ministry is trying to bring.”

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