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Apr 19, 2023

From the Farms to the Table, Onion Field Day in Bomba

Belize District is often referred to as the vegetable basket for the urban market. Thousands of pounds of edible plants that are consumed daily are produced by many cooperatives just off the Old Northern Highway.  Today, a News Five team travelled to Bomba – a farming community outside of Maskall Village. The Bomba United Farmers Cooperative hosted an onion field day where stakeholders, as well as students were engaged about the research and management of onion production from the field to the table. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It is used in almost all foods across many cultures to add flavour and texture to soups, salsas and sauces, including topping for hotdogs, and is the main ingredient for escabeche. In Belize, thousands of pounds of onions are consumed daily; about seventy-five percent of the market is produced locally and the rest is imported.


Jose Abelardo Mai

Jose Abelardo Mai, Ministry of Agriculture

“We used to be a net importer of onions, potatoes, carrots. That has changed. We are now importing far less onions than we used to do in the past. I think right now we are almost at seventy-five percent self-sufficiency in onions. So only a couple months of the year, we have to import onions. And potatoes the same, carrots the same – we are producing carrots now ten months of the year. So we are moving towards self-sustainability in these products. We want to reach a point where we can have not only quantity, but quality – quality to export because we want to export to El Salvador and Guatemala. But we have to ensure that we have the quality. And not only for the export, but Belizeans deserve the best too.”


Today, an Onion Field Day was hosted in Bomba, a farming village in Belize District off the Old Northern Highway. Nineteen members of the Bomba United Farmers Cooperative produce a wide variety of vegetables and onion is among one of its main products.  But last year, due to various factors, the group had to test out new varieties of onions that can adapt to the changing climate.

Reynaldo Orellana

Reynaldo Orellana, Chairman, Bomba United Farmers Cooperative

“Many of the farmers presented a list of losses because they planted variety of seeds that were unknown for them. So as they planted the onion, they noticed that the plant was not going well. So when they harvested, they didn’t harvest what they expected.”


And so the cooperative turned to four agro-services that have come in and provided twenty-five varieties – ninety percent that is good for the area. These varieties include the white, yellow and purple onions.
Reynaldo Orellana

“We as a cooperative normally produce between eighteen to twenty acres, but this year we have eighteen point eight acres. And we will harvest about over three hundred thousand pounds this year.”


Duane Moody

“That is for the Belize City market?”

Reynaldo Orellana

“It is for the whole country. When we enter the market, it is because the local farmers, they don’t have no more onion so that’s when we come into the market. For example last year, BMDC came to us and bought all the onions and they shared it to all of the country.”


Among the agro-service providers is AGRIPREC, a company out of Cayo that has been on the ground assisting the cooperative with the management of onion production. Elmer Herrera is an agronomist with the company that has been working with the farmers. He says that there are specific products and solutions recommended to control different pests.


Elmer Herrera

Elmer Herrera, Agronomist, AGRIPREC

“We have from the seed to when the product gets on the market where the consumers they buy it. We have a lot of products. We have fungicides, we have herbicides, insecticides, we have fertilizers, we have lot of products. We have from onion seeds, vegetables. We have tomatoes, watermelons, melons – I think we are pretty much in everything. Everything that the farmer needs, they can find it at AGRIPREC. We have the UPL agronomist coming from abroad into Belize and helping out the farmers. And I believe that is our strong point for AGRIPREC that we visit the farmers and it’s free of charge. If a farmer will call us and ask for assistance, we would go straight to their farm and help them out with what they need.”


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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