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Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to hand over four cool storage containers to Ministry of Agriculture

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Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2022. 8:49 am CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and (MAFSE) said the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is donating four cool storage containers to MAFSE.

MAFSE said the four containers will be distributed to 7 Miles, Cayo District; Maskall Village, Belize District; Xaibe Village, Corozal District; and San Carlos Village, Orange Walk District.

“These are all areas where vegetable and crop production are mainly concentrated all year round,” said MAFSE.

The official handing over will be held at Indian Creek Village in the Orange Walk District at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16.

In January, MAFSE said it had received four cool storage containers from JICA and that it was expected there would be a solution for extending the post-harvest shelf life of vegetables.

MAFSE said at the time when it first received the containers that they were at the livestock section where they were being prepped and retrofitted and would “later be distributed to the vegetable growing areas of Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, and Cayo, where issues relating to storage of onions and potatoes need resolving”.

MAFSE said assisting farmers with post-harvest crop management is part of the Ministry’s mandate. The objective is to ensure food sovereignty and minimize wastage.

Belize signed an agricultural agreement with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency in December 2021. The agreement seeks to develop agriculture cooperatives, improve management capacity to support the Cool Storage JICA Project, and support initiatives undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture.

MAFSE Communications Director Luis Pook said the farmers’ groups that would be chosen to benefit from the 40-foot storage containers would be those that are cooperatives already, like the New River Farmers Cooperative in San Carlos, Orange Walk.

For now, the storage for San Carlos will be located at Indian Creek because Indian Creek has the electrical supply right now while San Carlos doesn’t yet. Once they do, the storage container will be relocated to San Carlos.

“We are getting them solar energy units, but the project won’t be in until later this year,” said Pook.

“They are already active, they are producing and have a need for such technology because they produce crops like carrots, onions, and potatoes,” he said.

The JICA project has a value of $186,000 of which the Government of Belize was to contribute 15% in technical assistance.

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