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“You have to produce what you eat and eat what you produce,” Minister of Agriculture Abelardo Mai says as Ministry starts distribution of 18,000 vegetable seedlings

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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2021. 11:39 am CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Ministry of Agriculture is distributing 18,000 vegetable seedlings to farmers affected by last year’s hurricanes.

On Wednesday, Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, along with Fermin Blanco, OIRSA country representative, visited the Ministry’s nursery in Central Farm where the seedlings have been prepared and from where they were to be handed over to farmers from the Cayo and Belize districts.

“We are distributing these seeds countrywide to farmers and to people who are doing backyard gardens,” Minister Mai said.

Wednesday’s event comes as a result of a donation received from the Regional International Organization for Agricultural Health (OIRSA) Regional Emergency Funds to assist vegetable farmers who were affected by floodings caused by hurricanes Eta and Iota.

“We want people to understand, you have to grow your own food, you have to produce what you eat, and eat what you produce,” Mai said.

“Grown by the Central Farm Horticulture Unit, the vegetable seedlings at the nursery include tomato, lettuce, cabbage, and sweet pepper,” the Ministry of Agriculture said in a news release. “The distribution of seedlings is in line with the Plan Belize agriculture policy to restore food security and revive the livelihoods of farmers and producers.”

The Ministry of Agriculture said, “a total of 18,000 seedlings will be distributed to farmers and producers at all levels.”

A Ministry of Agriculture field officer said they received a total of 891,000 seeds of tomato, sweet pepper, and cabbage and so far, have used 40,000 seeds.

The Cayo and Belize districts were coming in line on Wednesday while the Toledo and Stann Creek districts are coming on board this week as well.

Seedlings were to be transported to Sand Hill yesterday for distribution to Belize District farmers.

“I’m very much interested in getting seedlings for Belize City,” Mai said. “We can grow vegetables in Belize City too. We just need to treat the technology a little and we can do it. That is our plan.”

“In the next month we’re preparing to give to the schools,” Minister Mai added. “This is in line with our agriculture policy that we must produce more, we must import less.”

Seeds are transported in a special transportation box designed by the Ministry of Agriculture field workers. The box is able to take 2,500 plants in 36 trays at a time. The seedlings arrive at their destination in good condition ready to plant. Transportation is done in the early morning or late evenings.

Minister Mai and OIRSA representative Blanco toured the nursery where they planted seeds, and where they were shown, along with the farmers present, how to prepare soil mix for planting and were shown the harvesting of California earthworms essential for good planting soil.

“By doing this, we lower the cost of food on the table, we eat a safer product because you know you’re not applying chemicals to it and you eat a healthier product. These three things are very important to us,” Minister Mai said.

Mai said the Ministry of Agriculture is working on other projects that have as their objective improving the livelihood of people.

“Once we have trained the people, then I think that they are on their own and are well informed and understand the value of producing their own food,” Minister Mai concluded.

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