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CEO for Economic Development visits Wild Cane Research in Orange Walk to see how energy generation project advancing

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Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2021. 2:16 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Belize is researching the cultivation of wild cane as biomass fuel for energy generation.

This week, Dr. Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment and National Designated Authority (NDA) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), visited the wild cane research plot in San Lazaro Village, Orange Walk District, according to a joint press release by the Government of Belize Press Office and SIRDI.

In February 2019, the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) made an agreement with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to implement a two-year pilot project to see if green energy could be generated for Belize. This would displace costlier and greenhouse gas emissions-intensive power and help reduce the cost of imported energy and the economic strain on the national economy.

Dr. Martinez’ objective was to get a first-hand experience and discuss the development of a full funding proposal to be submitted to the GCF. The joint release said that the GCF and Belize Electricity Limited provided grant funding for studies to be carried out by the CCCCC as the delivery partner.

Martinez said that processing the wild cane and producing it in commercial quantities “will provide a renewable source of fuel contributing significant benefits for Belize and the Caribbean”.

Dr. Luciano Chi, director and research coordinator at SIRDI, said that so far the project had done the initial land preparation, experimental design, soil sampling, planting, fertilization, and field data collection of plant growth parameters.

Ms. Omaira Avilla, CARDI representative in Belize, said planting material had been collected nationally and the species of wild cane present in Belize had been identified. A germination evaluation that will guide the planting in Orange Walk has also been done.

Mr. Earl Green, project officer at CCCCC, said “the results of demonstrating the viability of cultivating wild cane as biomass fuel for energy generation would offer significant potential opportunity towards Belize realizing its goals of becoming an energy exporter, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, achieving its nationally determined contributions targets, and enabling the upgrade of existing infrastructure to provide immediate and direct benefits on national energy challenges”.

CEO Martinez said it’s time to involve academia in the research. He said this will “allow Belize to increase knowledge in some of the most pressing issues of our times such as climate change impacts in agriculture”.

Other persons who also visited the project in San Lazaro included Leroy Martinez, economist/GCF focal point, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment; Jose Novelo, director of Project Execution Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise; Ryan Zuniga and Ian Morrison from CCCCC; and other representatives from CARDI and SIRDI.

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