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Sep 3, 2008

Cohune oil project launched in Flowers Bank

Story PictureThirty-three percent of the Belizean population is suffering from poverty and these persons are primarily in the Rural Areas. The Flowers Bank Community, however, no longer intends to remain with that distinction. Today, the community members joined forces with U.N.D.P. through the B.R.D.P. to launch the Cohune Oil Project which they strongly feel will also assist the neighbouring communities. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting
These cohune trees scattered throughout Flowers Bank, Rancho Dolores, and Double Head Cabbage are what residents believe will help to save their community.

Clinton Rhaburn, Chairman, Flowers Bank Village
“We are hoping that it will attract, not only Flowers Bank, but the whole entire Belize River Valley or wheresoever cohune are that we can put into making fat. We are hoping to see if we could get this oil wherever we could get the best market that we could make money to keep this thing going.”

Ruben Rhaburn, Resident, Flowers Bank
“I feel happy, you might hear the excitement in my voice. It is because I am happy. I know that this project will really benefit our community.”

The cohune oil is said to taste even better than the coconut oil, but manufacturing it, is a tedious process. After harvesting, the cohune is peeled, beaten with a mortar, and then fried for about an hour. And although it is being sold on a small scale in local markets, the plan is to now go international.

Pamela Ann Scott, Project Mgr., Agric. Enterprise Dev. Project, U.N.D.P.
“Well, we are here today to support the Flowers Bank Initiative, working with the Flowers Bank Community Group on developing the Cohune Oil Processing Facility.”

Pamela Ann Scott is the Project Manager for the Agriculture Enterprise Development Project at the U.N.D.P. That organisation, along with the Belize Rural Development Program is assisting the Flowers Bank Community with their venture.

Pamela Ann Scott
“The benefit of the project is to ensure that they increase their standard of living, have a process in place that would help them to ensure that they meet national requirement for selling of their products at the national level, as well as looking towards the future in exporting these products. So to do that, they need to be H.A.C.C.P. certified, meaning that they will have BAHA assisting them along the way to meet these national standards as well as international standards.”

Dr. Marcelino Avila, Director, Belize Rural Development Program
“We have approximately eighty-seven small projects throughout the country. Approximately half of them are involved in Agriculture, which means that they could be in the production of vegetables, crops, fruit trees, livestock and even activities related to let’s say processing and marketing of agricultural products.”

This morning the fifteen families involved in the project received their first cheque valued at twenty-four thousand dollars.

Pamela Ann Scott
“The estimated cost of the project range from let’s say over two hundred thousand dollars including the equipments and the infrastructure; the building itself. The different type of training that they need to get themselves together for the management of the project. So you are looking at over two hundred thousand dollars. If you calculate their in-kind contribution it will be quite a lot.”

The residents also received this acre of land from the Government of Belize through Area Representative, Edmund Castro. This parcel of land will house the facilities for the oil production and storage for the communities’ other produce.

Flower’s Bank Resident
“I think it’s time for us to rise up and help ourselves. Nobody will do it for us; we have to do it for ourselves.”

Duane Moody reporting for News Five.

Scott says that they are hoping for the Cohune Facility at the end of the year, but if any delay should take place, they’re expecting it to be fully functional no later than March of next year. The B.R.D.P. was founded by the European Union and the Government to support and develop economic activities in the rural communities of Belize.

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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