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Jul 27, 2018

Agriculture Ministers Across Central America Meet to Discuss Animal Health

Since assuming the pro tem presidency of the Central American Integration System at the end of June, the Government of Belize has taken up a number of responsibilities as it relates to regional economic and trade relations.  One area of mutual cooperation among SICA member states is agriculture.  Today at the Biltmore, ministers of agriculture from across the region participated in a forum chaired by Godwin Hulse.  In his office as Belize’s Minister of Agriculture, he is also short-term president of a SICA subcommittee which deals exclusively with farming and the agro-productive sector.  The focus of the daylong session, says Minister Hulse, is animal health.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“This meeting is the meeting of the council of agricultural ministers of SICA.  SICA is the regional integration movement, it has several components, agriculture being one of them.  This council is a meeting of all the agriculture ministers from Panama all the way up to Belize and Belize has now assumed, myself, the pro temp presidency for the next six months.  I took it over from the Dominican Republic.  This particular meeting is to continue to explore the agreements we have in sanitary and phytosanitary measures.  The main focus or one of the issues of this meeting is on cattle and animal health.  As you know, Belize is, or we’ve been declared free of tuberculosis and brucellosis, so we are a little ahead of the region.  This is one of the major topics today.  We’ll also be looking at wider trading and moving of agricultural products through the region.  The Central American region has huge import bills from the United States and Chile and the European Union, as well as exports, but we have not significantly moved into Central America in terms of our exports.  Yes, we’re pushing corn, we’re pushing some cattle, but we can push poultry and several other products so it’s very important for us.  As you know, Belize has a small population so it takes nothing to make us so-called self-sufficient.  We need to export our products.  So this is a wonderful opportunity also to collaborate and to continue the process.  The last meeting was held in 2014, under the chairmanship or the presidency of then Honorable Gaspar Vega, as Minister of Agriculture at the time.  So this is now our turn.”

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