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In recent years, several developing countries have experienced strong economic growth and have managed to reduce poverty thanks to funds provided by the European Union. Among the 150 countries that are aided by the E.U, is Belize. The funds provided by the E.U are granted to different entities and are to be used within a specified period. Here in Belize cane farmers have experienced the positive impacts of the E.U funds in the past and to date continue to do so.

The Sugar Industry Research Development Institute, SIRDI, is currently offering cane farmers loans for replanting and ratoon maintenance. The initiative is being carried out with funds from the E.U.

marcoMarcos Osorio Director of SIRDI

“We are out here today and actually for four days for this week which started yesterday in San Narciso and today we are here in Corozal Town, tomorrow we will be in Trinidad in the afternoon and on Friday we will be at Orange Walk Town at the Central Park and well for this week we are conducting a cane farmers open day to promote the funds available for the industry provided for credit to farmers for replanting and maintenance, what has happened is that the optics of the funds has been very slow and we are running the risk of losing most of the funds and we are at risk of losing between four to five million Belize dollars, why it is important to us and the industry and the stakeholders is that if the monies are contracted by farmers and we wish we can take up the hundred percent  which is about somewhere around seventy million dollars, if we take up the monies the monies thereafter remain for industry development programs, if we don’t use the funds, the funds will go back to the European Union and it will be a loss for the sugar industry.”

According to Marcos Osorio, Director of SIRDI, the funds are available for different field activities and at the end the overall objective is for cane farmers to be able to produce more tons cane per acre.

Marcos Osorio Director of SIRDI

“The funds are air marked for financing all the activities for replanting or field rehabilitation and for financing all the cost that goes with field husbandry or Raton maintenance, it is at an interest rate of 8%, it is interest on the reducing balance and for the replanting program farmers have an option to repay back from one to five years so we certainly encourage and invite the farmers to come out to and today we are here to provide more information to the farmers and to try engagement to participate in the program, the overall objective is that the industry needs to improve the tons cane per acre that is being produced, we are very low, there is potential for the industry to achieve a 25 tons cane per acre average and may later move on to thirty tons cane per acre average and if that would happen then we would not need to be farming this large acreage but we can produce the same amount of cane in a lesser acreage but we need to improve our management we need to replant so we can achieve more tons cane per acre.”

SIRDI is currently looking into opening a market for the sale of cane juice.

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