Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2021. 5:54 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Belize signed an agreement with Japan for the development of agriculture cooperatives, improvements in management capacity to support the Cold Storage JICA Project, and in support to the Ministry of Agriculture initiatives.
On Thursday, Agriculture Minister Jose Abelardo Mai and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Resident Coordinator Michiyo Hashiguchi signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the Government of Belize and JICA for development of agriculture cooperatives and the improvement of their management capacity said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE) in a statement on social media.
Resident Coordinator Hashiguchi made an overview of the JICA cold storage project and said it will be implemented before the harvesting season starts.
“The aim of the project is to increase onion and potato productivity and quality, and extend storage capacity for 4 additional months after the harvest,” said MAFSE.
“The practical objective of the project is to procures four 40-foot containers that will be used as cold storage units for post-harvest crop management particularly with potatoes and onions. Farmer will also be given training on how to store their products,” said Luis Pook, MAFSE Communications Director.
“The farmers groups who will be chosen to benefit from the 40-foot containers storage will be those that are cooperatives already like the New River Farmers Cooperative in San Carlos, Orange Walk. They are already active, they are producing and have a need for such technology because they produce crops like carrots, onions and potatoes,” Pook noted.
The cold storage units will be acquired to support production in the Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, and Cayo districts.
“This will increase the income generated by farmers and in turn help Belize in maintaining its food security status and decrease its food importation bill,” said the MAFSE statement.
Storage has been a constant problem affecting agricultural production and has been an objective that Minister Mai has been trying to solve since taking office.
Minister Mai said this agreement is another achievement on the 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘯 𝘉𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘻𝘦 manifesto which addresses the government’s commitment to ensure food security.
The MAFSE statement also said the project “also meets the Ministry’s mandate to reduce food loss and waste by improving storage and logistics facilities and investing in the development of new products from by-products and waste at the local levels by value adding and using processing technologies”.
For her part, Resident Coordinator Hashiguchi said JICA cold storage project will be implemented before the harvesting season starts.
The project has a value of $186,000 of which the Government of Belize will be supporting 15% in technical assistance.
Personnel from MAFSE and Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) were present for the signing of the agreement.
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