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Belize swims upstream with its Tilapia sector

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2020. 6:33 pm CST.

By BBN Staff:  Over sixty stakeholders including farmers, fisherfolk, producers, processors, private sector companies, and ministry representatives from across sectors are meeting to understand how they can all actively engage in the development of the Tilapia value chain.

Under the guidance of the Caribbean Value Chains team of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), representatives from across Ministries of the Government of Belize spent the past nine months immersed in understanding how to apply an integrated approach to develop emerging agricultural industries in the country, starting with Tilapia.

On Thursday, February 27, these representatives shared a draft 1-5 year strategic plan on the Tilapia sector to encourage stakeholder endorsement that will increase market opportunities and help boost the country’s agricultural sector.

The bold move by the Government is the result of a series of FAO-led applied training sessions on Sustainable Food Systems and Value Chain Development proffering not only theoretical knowledge on value chain analyses but also hands-on tools to collect critical financial and technical data and information on the sector.

Throughout this intense training, representatives from various divisions of Government conducted meetings with buyers, farmers and producers to get a better understanding of each other’s needs in order to promote a resilient, competitive and sustainable value chain and business model for the industry. The applied training on Value Chain Development process is expected to not only help the Tilapia sector but also guide the development of other sectors.

Delivered by Bree Romuld and Beichen Ding from FAO’s Agribusiness and Value Chain Development team in the Caribbean, the applied training sessions are the first of their kind at the Ministerial level in Belize.

The new participatory approach to technical support being used by FAO across the region was first tested in support of the revitalization of Jamaica’s ginger sector, which has since led to increased public-private partnership opportunities to revitalize important agricultural sectors.

Romuld remarked that the while the new methodology had so far been well received and training in Belize was in its penultimate phase, its success relied heavily on the involvement of the private sector, farmers, fishers, processors and all those who form a part of the value chain. She highlighted that the knowledge acquired and lessons learned throughout the training sessions were expected to better equip the Ministry to design and effectively manage value chains across sectors.

In speaking at the stakeholder meeting, new tilapia farmer Andrew Davis remarked that ‘it has been a very informative event to learn from others, particularly about the cost of production for Tilapia. Davis highlighted, ‘this allows me better to understand what is going on on my farm, how much it is costing me and whether I am making money.’

Michel Lewis, Senior Cooperative’s Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture noted that the training gave him insight into assessing business opportunities and markets, and understanding how to help farmers to see farming as a business and guide them in efficient spending and having a profitable business. He added that the value chain approach learned had amazed him as he now knows the major areas to focus on in order to make tilapia production more sustainable in the country.

A pilot project is currently underway in Belize to test the strategy that has been developed.

These and other results from similar training sessions currently underway in Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados are expected to be showcased during a Regional Workshop later this year.


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