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Jun 15, 2022

Youth Policy Initiative to Increase Youth Participation in Agriculture

A little over one hundred thousand Belizeans, living in rural communities, are between the ages of fifteen to twenty-five. Of that number, it is estimated that twenty-five percent of that youthful population is unemployed. Fairtrade International has found that youths are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. The problem, says the global organization, is a lack of enabling environment, appropriate policies, laws and regulations, including norms and practices, to facilitate the engagement of youths in agriculture. Since 2021, Fairtrade has been working to correct this imbalance and exclusion in Belize. The international organization teamed up with the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association to formulate a rights-based approach for youth involvement in the industry. Today, a ceremony was held in San Roman Village, in Corozal District to officially launch B.S.C.F.A.’s Youth Inclusive Policy and Framework Action. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association’s Active Youth Initiative in Fairtrade Sugar Cane Production in Belize was officially launched on Wednesday morning in San Roman Village.


Zune Canche

Zune Canche, Protection Focal Point, B.S.C.F.A.

“As an organization we have been doing a number of strides to try to get to this point. We have been doing a number of programs that have been including youths since 2015. This would mark the systematic change in the organization, because it is not only a project we are doing, but we are trying to institute that we are able to include them even at the decision making aspects.”


BSCFA and Fairtrade international are collaborating to develop a youth inclusive policy for the association. To date, consultations have been held with key stakeholders, nine focus group discussions have been held, and ninety-three youths from eleven communities in northern Belize have been consulted.


Jeser Correa

Jeser Correa, Youth Working Group Member, B.S.C.F.A.

“On the focus group that we conducted through various areas in the north those sugar cane farmers cultivate, we found that there are vulnerabilities which youths encounters. One of them is that it is alarming to see that youths are engaging more into crime and delinquency and we want to convert, we want that energy to be into a productive way, into sugar cane or into the agriculture sector so that it creates a sustainable Belize.”


Paul Lopez

“To date, what do you find are some of the challenges that are preventing youths from being more engaged in sugarcane and agriculture”


Jeser Correa

“One of the challenges, it is important to note that one land is passed to their offspring. So, it is difficult for a new youth to access a land. There is where the government should also form part and assist in proving lands to youth.”


Other challenges that youths cited during consultations include limited productivity due to a lack of finances, shortage of labor, poor conditions of roads used to transport sugar, low wages, and discrimination based on gender and political affiliations.


Anita Sheth

Anita Sheth, Senior Advisor, Fairtrade International

“We have more youths in our world today than ever before. However, a large proportion of them are not in employment, not in skills development, not in business opportunities. Young people are three times more unlikely to be employed than their adults. So, Fairtrade is concerned about the next generation of farmers, farm workers, and traders. So, when interviewing producers in Fairtrade, we understand that the average age is increasing and young people are not interested in agriculture. So, this creates a problem not only for Fairtrade but for the world.”


The vision for the BSCFA Youth Inclusive Policy is to empower young people in sugar cane production and agricultural communities for participation in BSCFA’s decision making process. Andy Westby, the Chairman of BSCFA, says the association is serious about executing the policies that will be drawn out from this initiative.


Andy Westby

Andy Westby, Chairman, B.S.C.F.A.

“The BSCFA is very serious because we have more than five years investing in these policies and remediation in the youths nuh. So, that is why we are very interested to help them with their way of thinking, their way of learning, their experiences, their advance studies that they made, and with our experiences to help them make better decisions for us in the day of tomorrow. Ofcourse, we have to listen to them even if it has to be a part in the board meetings also to listen to them and to help us also make better decision by the way they say things. So, jointly I think this will be the way of the BSCFA and respective for the youths to be part of the BSCFA, and also future generations, and Belize and the nation, and country.”


Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez

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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