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Jun 3, 2022

2 New Cooperatives Are Registered in Corozal

Today, two groups of farmers from villages in Corozal District were officially registered as cooperatives. About forty farmers from both groups provide agricultural produce to markets across the country to ensure food security.  These persons have now opted to become part of two cooperatives to benefit from training and being able to access much more resources. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The double registration ceremony occurred this morning in Concepcion Village, Corozal. The Concepcion Vegetable Farmers Cooperative and the Northern Sustainable Agro-Producers Cooperative were officially handed over their certifications by the Registrar of Cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise.

Gareth Murillo

Gareth Murillo, Registrar of Cooperatives

“These farmers now have organized themselves into a formal and legally recognized small enterprise. That gives them access to certain services such as what we at the department provide. We are certifying them today as cooperatives.  With that now, they will continue to have our assistance in terms of entrepreneurial development, in terms of some regulatory framework that we are legally responsible for. For example they will have access to conflict resolution, to auditing services and that’s the benefits to them from within the department.”

 

The Concepcion Vegetable Farmers Cooperative consists of twenty-two farmers from the village. They provide fruits and vegetables for markets in Corozal and Orange Walk, but also Belize City.  This cooperative’s chair is Orlando Ek, the National Agriculture and Trade Show’s 2022 Male Farmer of the Year.

 

Orlando Ek

Orlando Ek, Chairman, Concepcion Vegetable Farmers Cooperative

“The products that we produce is a variety from sweet pepper, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, zucchini, watermelon, mush melons – it’s variety. People know me in Belize City. Me personally sell my own product. Sometimes we sell it to middle man, sometimes when we have plenty of onions, we do middlemen. But one of the advantages that we have is that we have Corozal market, we sell to Orange Walk market and I sell to Belize City. So we have three opportunities in this area. So we will have that privilege and we are better organized as we are cooperative now.”

 

Meanwhile, the Northern Sustainable Agro-Producers Cooperative is led by a woman, Maria Yam of Patchakan Village. A teacher by profession and also a farmer by trade with her husband and family, Yam says that they want to make sure that the eighteen farmers can provide fresh produce to the entire country.

 

Maria Yam

Maria Yam, Chairlady, Northern Sustainable Agro-Producers Cooperative

“We started getting organized because as in everything, we need to have structure in order for us to improve in what it is that we are doing. And so thanks to the Department of Cooperatives as well as RRB who has been pushing us. Mister Garcia, Miss Sandra – they have been behind us and I believe that with structure, with organization, there are better things that can come our way.”

 

Duane Moody

“These eighteen farmers are only from Patchakan? They are across the northern?”

 

Maria Yam

“We have from Patchakan majority of our members and then we have four members from Xaibe. We are improving what we used to do in the past because we used to focus only onions, but now we have learnt about carrots and we are willing to teach whosoever is interested in learning that as well and we are moving into other crops like cabbage – we are diversifying. As our name says, we are also moving into agro-processing. So we are not sticking to one thing, but we know that sometimes we face challenges. So we are not into throwing away our products or other such things, but we are rather we are thinking on something down the road.”

 

As a legally recognized and formal enterprise, the cooperatives will be able to access banking and ancillary services from other institutions and organizations. C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Enterprise, Servulo Baeza, says that formalizing these cooperatives also helps the country with food security through the implementation of scheduled farming.

 

Servulo Baeza

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

“Imagine if we were to have to go to each individual farmer to relay the same message or when we want to do any kind of training. It is easy to just contact the chairman, he gets the group together we meet with the group and have our capacity building for them. Imagine also as a cooperative that they can go now to a business and say we want to buy in bulk; this is what we need, they can get the top prices. Imagine for when they want to sell, when they want to market they can market together as a group. So being in an organization like a cooperative has so much benefit for the members and fro the country itself because they are playing a very important role in terms of food security. It is important for the ministry to make sure that we get them organize and we could do some scheduling to ensure that we don’t have overlapping. Unlike onion and potato that you can store for a while, carrot is very perishable and so items like carrots are things that we have to work very closely with our farmers and having cooperatives organized like this makes it much easier.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 


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