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The ambitious plans to help sugar and agriculture survive: will it go far enough?

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belize sugarcane

Posted: Wednesday, July 1, 2020. 3:39 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: In introducing the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) US$1.013 million loan for enhancing sugarcane farmers’ resilience to natural hazard events, Minister of Agriculture, Senator Godwin Hulse noted that this was the money cañeros had been waiting for since last year when the drought took out near 40 percent of their crop after the best year in the history of the industry the year prior.

With the assistance of new systems registering farmers, Hulse said the funds would be pro-rated according to the level of delivery per farmers, and further assistance is coming from the World Bank which will restructure $8 million in loans for both agriculture and social recovery.

But will it go far enough, asked business senator Mark Lizarraga? Hulse observed that he would cry shame on those who appear not willing to support this most important of industries, but Lizarraga addressed him directly by stating that they have had conversations about this and that his Ministry has been strangled of valuable resources in favour of “roundabouts and roads to nowhere.” Indeed, the concept paper accompanying the motion suggests that it is barely ten percent of what is really needed.

Opposition Senator Luis Zabaneh noted that Belize has lower productivity per acre of cane – 16 to 20 tons – than our neighbours who also produce sugar, and this needs to be addressed in terms of educating farmers about research on best sugar cane varieties (which Belize Sugar Industries is doing at its plots in Orange Walk). We are not here to talk about the PUP’s sins, he said, but the UDP’s and that only ordinary Belizeans are hurting.

We will have more from Hulse on agriculture later on.

 

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