Posted: Friday, November 29, 2019. 11:09 am CST.
By BBN Staff: While Belize’s citrus industry has been embattled by disease, it was fortunate enough to escape any major impact from the drought that caused serious damage to the agricultural sector this year, according to Chief Executive Officer of Agriculture in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development, Jose Alpuche.
Alpuche explained that the 2019/2020 citrus crop has already started and the outlook is relatively similar to last year’s production, with some expected declines.
“Well for citrus it was not directly impacted as it relates to the drought. Yes, there was some early fruit ripening and fruit drop but those fruits were actually sold off as fresh produce so the farmers have not really lost per say. Where we might see a decline would be deliveries to the factory,” Alpuche said.
The drought, which the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) notes has been the worst in decades has affected some 7,000 registered farmers who own over 8,000 farms. The drought caused massive crop and livestock losses and prompted intervention by the Government of Belize (GOB) to assist the industry in dealing with the crisis.
A working group comprised of the Central Bank of Belize (CBB), Ministry of Finance (MOF), MOA, and CBB approved several emergency measures to assist the affected farmers, which included the relaxing of certain regulatory requirements on banks and credit unions so that they are able to accommodate refinancing and fresh financing to current and new borrowers in the agriculture sector among several others.
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