Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2022. 6:44 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Government of Belize is pumping $15 million into the citrus industry and getting expertise to lead the revival, said Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai in his remarks as guest speaker at the 45th Citrus Growers Association (CGA) Annual General Meeting held at the CGA headquarters on Tuesday.
Mai said that in August, Cabinet declared that “the citrus industry is critical to Belize’s economic development” and gave “full support for the recommendations being made for interventions in the citrus industry”.
The Government of Belize allocated $15 million over the next three years in loan financing through the Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and gave the go-ahead for the diversification of the citrus industry into processing of more non-traditional fruits. Cabinet also mandated the modernization of the Citrus Act to facilitate the growth and expansion of the industry.
Minister Mai noted that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE) has also been looking for the best persons to lead the industry’s revival.
He said MAFSE assigned agronomist Fay Garnett, who has been District Agriculture Coordinator, to lead the diversification efforts into non-traditional fruits, and more recently, both Prime Minister John Briceño and himself asked Hugh O’Brien to join the Ministry to lead the revival of the industry.
The Minister noted that while MAFSE wants O’Brien on board for the next three to five years, O’Brien has so far only agreed “to do his best to get things moving in 2022”. Mai said O’Brien “comes from a background of hard work and has earned respect across the agriculture sector, having held posts at all levels in different areas of agriculture, from teacher and principal of the Belize College of Agriculture to CEO in the Ministry of Agriculture to now heading the Working Group”.
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