caneA multi-million dollar grant from the Inter-American Development Bank will help to finance a project that will support the sustainability of the Sugar Industry of Belize, a release from the Bank announced today. The$1.3 million US dollar grant from the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) is a three-year project which will provide resources to create and implement a dedicated extension service for over 5,400 sugar cane farmers in northern Belize and to build a sustainable farming model that strengthens the capabilities of these farmers. The release states that the project will also support the integration of agricultural technology and the implementation of a centralized geographic information system which will enhance coordination and assist the industry’s ability to strategically plan for the future. This project will be implemented by the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI) and will complement previous and on-going support for Belize’s sugar industry provided by the European Union, the Belize Sugar Industries Limited, La Inmaculada Credit Union Limited, the United Nations Development Program, and the sugar cane farmers’ associations. SIRDI’s technical staff, comprised of six field officers, will be complemented by 12 additional technicians who will work with 270 harvest group leaders and with the three Associations to strengthen their organizational, managerial, and operational capacity. Farmers and harvest group leaders will benefit from training aimed at increasing productivity and adapting best practices in sugar cane cultivation, data collection, and entrepreneurship.

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