Screen_Shot_2014-06-03_at_8.10.42_PMEvery year, throughout the course of the year we have brought you the critical issues affecting the agriculture sector. The sector in the country is today met with many challenges but as it is one of the biggest foreign exchange earners for the country, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture has taken matters seriously. The Ministry officials are currently on a countrywide consultation with stakeholders for the development of a policy for the agriculture sector. That consultation was held today in the Orange Walk District. Our News team stopped by to find out more about the initiative.

 

Dalila Ical – Reporting

 

There are a number of issues that need urgent attention in the agriculture sector and this has triggered the move by government to reach out to the various stakeholders for their input on developing a policy that will guide the agriculture sector into the right places. Ricardo Thompson is the Principal Agriculture Officer.

 

Ricardo Thompson – Principal Agriculture Officer, MONRA


“Some of these issues are climate change and climate variability some of the other ones are dwindling preferential markets, our aging former population and many other issues that need to be actually articulated in our policy.”

 

Groups of interest have taken part in the process including lending institutions, women and youth.

 

Ricardo Thompson – Principal Agriculture Officer, MONRA


“At the end of the day what we are trying to find is a policy that is actually acceptable by all but I know it is a little bit difficult to actually accomplish but we are going to emphasize that he common denominator is the good of the country.”

 

Dalila Ical - Reporter

 

“What are the priorities, what are the key areas of major concern for the ministry?”

 

Ricardo Thompson – Principal Agriculture Officer, MONRA

 

“Well, there are two that actually come to mind first and fore most with security and nutrition, our country, our people must eat and the second one is that agriculture needs to be an economic pillar, need to be the engine of the economic growth in our country and that is very important but what actually emphasizing in that we must do it in a very responsible and associated manner. We do know that our supportive to that is the area of innovation of our competitiveness because at the end of the day agriculture has actually survived in these past years but agriculture is becoming competitive as we do know that our market is out there that are available; so we are looking for products one quality, quantity and quality and timing-ness and this has to be produced in a way that is actually competitive in price and we believe we can do that by actually deemed by innovation and modern technology.”

 

The industry is not yet collapsed, Thompson says it’s going good, but there is so much more that can be done and achieved for and by all stakeholders.

 

Ricardo Thompson – Principal Agriculture Officer, MONRA


“If you look at for example our exports, we export a little bit over six hundred million dollars from agriculture, it is one of the largest foreign exchange earners and it is second in employer in our country but then when your look at the imports we have may be about 1.7 billion dollars on imports so there is a big trade deficit and anything that we can do to help in the area to agriculture we ought to step up the challenge and that is what I think agriculture should be aiming for.”

 

Key in the process are the farmers themselves, who at time, demand more to be convinced that change is imminent.

 

Ricardo Thompson – Principal Agriculture Officer, MONRA


“Farmers are smart people and in any technology that you are going to introduce it has to be proven and it has to be tested and the farmers can actually see it and they believe it and they adopt it and that is where our extension service and the transfer of technology in a way that is not only theoretical but is actually by doing and practicing and demonstration for our farmers and we will be able to overcome that.”

 

Still, that is not the biggest concern within the sector, explains Sergio Garcia, a consultant working with the Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO.

 

Sergio Garcia – Consultant, FAO


“The first problem that has been identifies is the lack of affordable credit, I think that we realize that in Belize we have excess liquidity in the banking system but yet the credit is not affordable.  The second aspect is how do we get the support to infrastructure; roads, storage, slaughterhouses from my end I believe that there is tremendous opportunity for agricultural development in the country but nevertheless it has to be a concerted effort especially between the ministries, the public sector, the private sector and civil society, I think that from over all we have been from all over the country and I think that there are expectations, there is a lot of interest and I think the follow up in other words after you have a policy how do we move to the next level which is implementation.”

 

Anyone who has been unable to attend the consultations but is interested in making inquiries and or recommendations can send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


The consultation began in early May and is at its final stages. The new policy will be presented in early July this year at a forum where stakeholders can further discuss the way forward.

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