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Agriculture research has to be innovative, relevant and responsive to the emerging issues, challenges, and opportunities says Ina Sanchez, Director of at the Research, Development, and Innovation Center

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Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2021. 8:30 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The agricultural sector has a lot of challenges so the Research, Development, and Innovation Center has to be innovative, relevant and responsive to the emerging issues, challenges, and opportunities in agriculture said Ina Sanchez, Director of at the Research, Development, and Innovation Center and Station Manager of Central Farm.

Sanchez was a presenter in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fооd Ѕесurіtу, аnd Еntеrрrіѕе’s Annual General Meeting afternoon session in Belmopan.

Sanchez said the agricultural sector is affected by “low productivity, low technology, high cost of inputs and labour, and pest and disease pressure, reliance on rain-fed agriculture, climate change, limited market access, and the poor state of agriculture facilities and infrastructure” all have an effect on agricultural production.

Sanchez said that climate change has a damaging effect as well.

“Decreasing rainfall and increased variability make it more difficult to plan for agricultural production,” Sanchez said. “Major crops will see yields change due to increased temperatures.”

“Livestock productivity decline as a result of droughts, poor pasture conditions and increased cost or unavailability of grain-based food. Yields of the major crops, namely sugar cane, rice, bananas, citrus, corn, and beans, are all expected to decrease. Increase in pests and diseases, like the locust and the emerging threat of Thrips, affects production, increase water stress, stunts growth and development and shortens growth periods,” she added.

Sanchez said despite all that affects agriculture, people expect that it should still increase farmers’ income, food security, poverty alleviation, create jobs, and contribute towards foreign exchange earnings.

The sector is expected to be productive despite the issues that might be faced, so research and development becomes important.

Sanchez said they have to do lots of evaluation to reverse the negative factors that affect it.

She said right now they are evaluating heat and drought tolerant crops so they have set up demonstration plots in four locations around the country.

Sanchez says they are evaluating different tomato seed varieties, but noted that evaluation of new varieties is time and resource dependent. Plus, they also have to evaluate yield and consumer acceptance.

Sanchez said the Research Development and Innovation Center has been working together with the University of Belize in doing research management at the Central Farm campus. The objective, Sanchez said, is to enhance the research output of the University of Belize Central Farm campus, through mentorship and guidance in applied agricultural research.

In conclusion, Sánchez said that at the moment, they are also reorganizing the Center so that they are better aligned with the different departments of the Ministry of Agriculture.

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