The ongoing drought in the north of the country has farmers of the southern Orange Walk District losing in earnings of millions of dollars. But while they are establishing new alternatives, farmers in Little Belize, an area that has always been known for the largest production of corn, is beginning to feel the effects of the drought which has already resulted in the loss of millions of dollars. According to Corozal District Agriculture Coordinator, Fulton Barry Palacio, a total of 8,000 acres of corn amounting to 8 million of dollars have been lost in the Little Belize area and Corozal.


Screen_Shot_2015-09-17_at_8.17.37_PMFulton Barry Palacio District agriculture Coordinator


“The drought have severely impacted the agricultural sector, the hardest hit to date is the corn farmers of which Little Belize represents the biggest block, we have 6500 acres of being planted and loss due to this drought and another 1500 acres in the rest of the Corozal District which also has been loss due to this unusual and heavy drought and when we totaled that in terms of money figures it translates almost into based on our figures something like 7 to 8 million dollars.”


Reporter


“What is the department of agriculture doing to assist farmers with this drought?”


Fulton Barry Palacio District agriculture Coordinator


“As it is our role right now is to collect this information and to pass it on to senior management in Belmopan and at the policy level a decision will be made so I cannot tell you what is the final word because information is still being gathered so the level of damaged that is caused by this drought so as soon as this information is collected I presume that a decision will be made.”


Palacio is certain that the loss of the corn crop will cause food prices to increase, the reason for this is simply because corn is very much in demand. And that demand does not only come from Belizeans as corn is key when it comes to feeding poultry and pork.


Fulton Barry Palacio District agriculture Coordinator


“Most importantly I think the issue of corn being loss as we all know the price of corn due to this drought I think it is every body’s knowledge that prices will be on the rise, how far and to what extent I cannot predict at this moment but given that we know that the price of corn goes up as it is being an integral part of seed both for human consumption and animal consumption then it means that there will be a higher price paid for food at the home table, in the case of home chicken and pork corn plays a very key part in terms of feed for these animals and the speculation is that prices of these products might also have to go up.”


To make matters worse, the meteorological service has indicated that the severe drought will continue, bringing about more problems. According to Palacio, in order to cope with this severe drought farmers have to look into a paradigm shift. Meaning changing completely the way of doing or thinking agriculture. For example, the establishment of affordable irrigation systems where applicable which is very expensive. The good news is that according to Palacio, the ministry is looking into climate smart methods to render the necessary assistance to farmers.


Fulton Barry Palacio District agriculture Coordinator


“This upheaval in terms of the weather pattern is really affecting the agricultural sector in the case of Corozal there is a huge deficit in terms of rainfall and the prediction is that the drought well continue and I want to tell farmers at this point in time is that they need to prepare for a continued dry and all the reports that we get from the MET office indicate that even up until the ending of the hurricane season in November there will still be the possibility that a drought will still be impacting the northern part of the country and in November we will tailor in much lesser rainfalls which means that basically we should prepared for a long, long dry season."


Farmers are asked to lookout for the irrigation systems that will minimize water waste.

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