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Cabinet approves $15 million in loan financing to revitalize the citrus industry

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Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2021. 2:16 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: At this week’s sitting, a bold decision was taken by Cabinet providing critical loan financing support to revitalize the citrus industry and sending a clear signal about the importance of the citrus industry to Belize.

In a Cabinet briefing released late this evening, Cabinet said that in “recognizing that the citrus industry is critical to Belize’s socioeconomic development, Cabinet approved the allocation of $15 million in loan financing to be disbursed through the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for the industry”.

This financing facility will be disbursed over a three-year period at interest rates ranging from 5.5 to 8 percent for implementing short- and medium-term programs necessary for the revitalization of the citrus industry. Of the $15 million being approved, 50% or $7.5 million is earmarked for borrowing by small and medium sized growers.

In an exclusive interview with Breaking Belize News (BBN), Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai said that “the citrus industry was neglected for over a decade by our political leaders” and that “the industry is now on life support”. However, with the disbursement of much needed loan funds through the DFC to bonafide farmers, the use of new technology and with the Ministry providing guidance to the industry, Mai said that the industry will rebound and approach the glory days of the early 2000’s.

On the Love FM Morning Show earlier today, Prime Minister John Briceno informed the nation that his government is targeting an increase in citrus production to 3 million boxes in five years time, and to 5 million boxes in 10 years time. Of significance is that the 2020-2021 citrus crop was a mere 1.35 million boxes.

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