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Oct 28, 2021

COVID-19 Enhanced Food Security in Belize

Testimonials from survivors as well as the loved ones of those affected by COVID-19 as well as the importance of vaccinations have been ventilated in the our news segment COVID-19 Chronicles. The pandemic continues to have a hold on the country – in areas of public health, the economy and tourism. But on the flip side, at least for Belize, it has forced the country to become self-sufficient. The agriculture industry has quickly become even more essential to food security and in tonight’s episode of COVID-19 Chronicles; we look at just that – COVID-19 and agriculture.


Duane Moody, Reporting

COVID-19 continues to change the way we do things. And in the agriculture industry it is no different. At the onset of the pandemic, the tourism industry was shattered and the agro-producers who supplied those resorts and restaurants felt the pinch.


Servulo Baeza

Servulo Baeza, C.E.O., Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security & Enterprise

“COVID-19 affected our farmers in terms of, we would say, well there was a market contraction because we loss the tourism sector. A lot of our produce was going to the tourism sector.”


Many of those who become jobless returned to their roots and to farming communities.


Barry Palacio

Barry Palacio, District Agriculture Coordinator, Orange Walk

“Due to COVID-19 the whole world recognizes the importance of agriculture in that economies have struggled and most of all, people have struggled to put food on the table. And as such, agriculture sector became of summa-importance.

Many people who were working in the tourism sector loss their jobs and the other sectors, people lost their jobs not because of choice, but simply because COVID struck. These persons were faced with the everyday question, how do they put food on the table. Many of those same persons had agriculture backgrounds, they decided to return back to farming in order to return food back on the table. And as a result, we are seeing an increased number of farmers, new farmers and then those existing farmers, because of this demand for their produce, decided that they will ramp up their productions. As such, for this year, we are projecting that there will be an abundance of food being produced in Belize.”


Those commodities are specifically carrots, onions and potatoes. And while there has been an increase in persons heading to the markets, Belizeans are not only eating greener, but the kinds of produce consumers are seeking has also changed – not to mention the price.


Barry Palacio

“Last year, there was the change in dynamics as to how we eat. Food became part and parcel of medicine and everybody started to remember ginger, they started to remember vervine, fever grass and all the other herbs which at some point time, they were hardly looked at or were never used before. So in that regards we have changed. Today, the price of ginger is almost like ten dollars a pound; in some places, fourteen, so you know there is a strong demand for this item because it is perceived to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19.”


Although you may think that an increase in the number of farmers means there is less to go around, it is quite the opposite. C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise says Servulo Baeza that it has actually made the country become less reliant on imported goods and more food secure.


Servulo Baeza

“When you look at the actual consumption of the local people, I guess closing down the borders also helped our borders to a certain extent. We saw that the consumption of beans went up, consumption of rice went up. I just got a report yesterday for instance that the consumption of beef also went up. So in some areas you would say we loss some of the demand but in other areas it did go up.

People have to eat. Who will put the food on the table? That can’t stop. So you saw that the agriculture sector was very resilient, continued producing and continued to supply our people with food. So food security is very important. So if the biggest lesson in terms of agriculture is that we have to make sure that we invest in agriculture, we have to make sure that we have a strong agricultural sector that can withstand any kind of disaster.”


COVID-19 presented the need for food security.


Servulo Baeza

“Exactly and when you look at the reports from the FAO and so on, the biggest concern was food security because countries who do not produce their food were in serious problems. Thankfully here in Belize, we are self-sufficient in all our basic rains and in our meets, we are self-sufficient and that helped us tremendously.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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