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Nov 23, 1998

F.A.O. helps small farmers

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As foreign aid goes it is not in the same league as the Southern Highway or even Coastal Zone Project in Toledo… but don’t tell that to the seventeen farmers who will benefit from a project to be undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.

The Tele Food Micro Project launched this morning will not only financially assist poor farmers, but equip them with the hand tools they need in the fields. Efrain Aldana is the Chief Agriculture Officer.

Efrain Aldana, Chief Agriculture Officer

“This project will help small farmers specially in two areas. One is in food security which has been shown that there is pockets of poverty in many districts. And this project will assist them to have, assist them with the inputs, so that they can produce foods for their ownselves.”

Aldana says the ministry has become increasingly concerned that there are a good number of farmers living in poverty and that the problem has affected their ability to successfully produce and access food markets.

Efrian Aldana

“We found areas in Toledo, native farmers in Toledo. We found areas in Cayo District where we have a lot of refugees, Central American refugees and it’s a concern. These people either lack resources, they. It’s a complex issue how these things happen and so with these projects, the methodology, the way of working, we believe is going to have an impact because we are getting the participation of the farmers.”

Helping the farmers to get the project off the ground, is David Bowen, F.A.O.’s regional representative. Bowen explained how the program works.

David Bowen, F.A.O. Regional Representative

“You identify a rural area, an area and you identify the beneficiaries, the farmers. In the case of one of the tele food projects, seventeen farmers will be beneficiaries and the inputs go directly to them. The inputs being the planting, the pesticides and the fertilizers and maybe some farm tools.”

Q: “All of this will be provided to them, free of cost?”

David Bowen

“Free of cost. The intention is that the project, when the produce is sold, some will be used to improve their income and a small amount should be set aside, like an accumulative fund, which will be used to ensure that the project survives in case you need more fertilizer in two years. There will be funds to buy and ensure that the program continues.”

Aldana told News Five that the project will also help the farmers to access the growing tourism market in Belize.

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