Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2021. 5:24 pm CST.
By Hugh O’Brien: Fay Garnett, a young agriculture specialist takes on a new and senior responsibility in the Ministry of Agriculture, as the Ministry attempts to play a key role in helping Belize recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her new capacity, Garnett is expected to lead the development of non-traditional fruits across the country of Belize. According to senior Ministry officials, the first focus will be to promote the production and processing of coconut, limes, pineapples, avocado, soursop, among other fruits, and to assist Belizeans across the country to establish “micro and small fruit orchards with delicious, nutritious species for food security and possible export”.
Under this new assignment, Garnett hopes to work closely with the private sector to develop and commercialize new non-traditional fruits that have potential for local consumption and export. Early discussions, Garnett said, will be held with the Citrus Products of Belize (CPBL) to coordinate and expand the production of limes, pineapples and soursop for processing. In addition, collaboration with Silk Grass Farms and TexBel Farms will commence immediately to support the purchase of green and dry coconuts from small farmers to be used for processing into coconut water, coconut oil and coconut milk. These initiatives will enhance food security and nutrition as well as create much needed income for farmers.
Fay Garnett grew up in Belmopan and is a proud 2003 graduate of the Belize College of Agriculture, now a part of the University of Belize. She then went on to do a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Resources and Agriculture Science at EARTH University in Costa Rica (2009), and did her research thesis on “Alternative uses of Breadfruit. She went back to Costa Rica and completed a Master’s Degree in Agroforestry and Sustainable Agriculture in 2019 then returned to Belize to continue her service to Belizean farmers. Her Master’s thesis focused on “Climate change vulnerability and adaptive capacity of small coffee producers in Turrialba, Costa Rica”.
In 2003, Garnett began working in the Ministry of Agriculture as an Extension Officer. She then worked as an Information Officer and later was seconded as a Farm Technician responsible for hot pepper seed production at CARDI Belize. After furthering her studies, she returned and became the District Agriculture Officer for the Cayo and Stann Creek districts. She is bilingual and has represented the Ministry both nationally and regionally in areas involving organic production, agro-ecological farming, fruit trees, family agriculture, gender and youths.
In an exclusive interview with Breaking Belize News (BBN), Garnett said “even though I have been working in a mostly male dominated sector, I managed to work well with my colleagues, and gained equal opportunities for my personal growth and development”.
In accepting her new role, Garnett told BBN “my greatest motivation is to know that farmers, each day, individually and collectively provide food for all Belizeans to consume”. Garnett said that she looks forward to increasing the awareness of our local fruits and the potential they have to contribute to the social, environmental and economic welfare of all Belizeans.
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