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Mar 23, 2023

Budget Debate: The Agriculture Sector and its Challenges

Jose Abelardo Mai

The agriculture sector shrunk in 2022, but continues to be one of the main economic drivers for the country. It employs tens of thousands of Belizeans and experiences direct growth as the tourism sector expands.  During his presentation, Orange Walk South Area Representative Jose Abelardo Mai revealed that the citrus industry is facing challenges; meanwhile, climate change has been affecting the banana industry, along with the cost of production. While there has been a decrease in foreign exchange in the cattle citrus and banana industries, other subsectors experienced growth. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise is being allocated an estimated nine point nine million dollars.


Jose Abelardo Mai, Area Representative, Orange Walk South

“The 2022/2023 citrus crop is not going to be good and with the combined production of oranges and grapefruits projected to be less than eight hundred thousand boxes for the first time in recent history. There is an urgent need for the citrus industry to diversify into other fruit juices. CPBL is investing in a much versatile type of processing, focusing on coconuts, passionfruit, soursop and pineapples. In the 2022/2023 crop, pineapple deliveries to CPBL is expected to be one point two million pounds, so as a process it is expected to reach fifty thousand pounds and passionfruit, which currently stands at just under twenty thousand pounds, is expected to reach sixty thousand pounds which is a new record. To save the industry and to diversify the industry, to accelerate the diversification, the Ministry of Agriculture along with CATIE in Costa Rica has sourced five hundred thousand pineapple seedlings to distribute to farmers in the southern districts to kickstart the diversification. The objective is to have in one and a half years, at least eight times the amount of seeds and hopefully we can reach two hundred and fifty acres of pineapples. Bananas, the production fell from five point seven million boxes to four point six million boxes, equivalent to thirteen percent mostly due to much rain in 2022.  Climate change is real, and it is affecting the productive sector. The banana industry will recover and the BGA are engaging the financial institution to obtain operational funds to address fertilizer and other inputs that are urgently needed to ramp up production. While bananas and citrus and cattle produced less foreign exchange, all other subsectors showed increase. Onions, an increase of thirty-one-point eight percent; potatoes that shrunk a little; coconuts, eighteen thousand acres of coconuts now; limes and lemons an increase of two point nine percent; tomatoes fifteen point eight percent, hot peppers twenty-one point nine percent, lettuce twenty-three point seven percent; broccoli a hundred percent increase this year; cauliflower three point six percent – all this, Madam Speaker, is in line with our policy of food sovereignty.”

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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