Posted: Friday, March 18, 2022. 7:53 pm CST.
Photo Credit: GOB Press Office/MAFSE
By Rubén Morales Iglesias
The Government of Belize signed a matching grant fund agreement with the Los Buenos Amigos Cooperative Society Limited of Trio Village, Toledo District, for BZ $337,453.00 on Wednesday, March 16 at Trio Village.
The fund will provide the pineapple producing cooperative support in climate-resilient farming for it to become more effective in producing, marketing, and selling their agricultural products.
Dr. Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Economic Development said the matching grant fund will “assist them with irrigation, storage facilities, and also a small office space. The objective of this project is to continue to contribute to rural development in rural areas.”
Martinez said that Los Buenos Amigos Cooperative are deserving of the fund as they had fulfilled all the pre-requisites.
“There has to be a lot of safety nets, pre-requisites that they had to go through, and it is important to note that they have qualified,” he said.
The matching fund agreement “will also support members with farming and other equipment to enable them to produce, market and sell their produce from a proposed 31.6 acres of pineapple to be cultivated by the Co-operative” said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE).
The Agreement will also finance a capacity building plan that should improve management, reduce chemical use, improve water management for irrigation, quality control and enhance gender equity.
Servulo Baeza, MAFSE’s Chief Executive Officer, said the fund should go a long way in helping Los Buenos Amigos in developing their pineapple production. His ministry, he said, has been promoting climate resilient agriculture which requires proper drainage, proper use of irrigation, and marketing, which are components of the project.
“We understand the challenge that the farmers have, not only producing but actually selling their product,” Baeza said.
“It’s interesting because it’s a combination of IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and GCF (Green Climate Fund) where GCF is providing the funding. In terms of the project itself there is a component of where the beneficiaries have to give a part, whether it be in kind or cash investment and then the rest is government funded. At the end of the day when the cooperatives or the groups get the grant, it’s a grant for them but it’s a loan for the government,” he noted.
Baeza said he hoped that Los Buenos Amigos Cooperative is successful and can identify other products that they can produce as well.
“We’re hoping that using this model, that they are going to take the project more seriously, that they are going to work together and that they are going to ensure that there is sustainability in the project that they are doing,” said Minister of Community Development Oscar Requena.
CEO Martinez said that he felt good, having grown in that area of the country, to see women farmers and to see some of his classmates doing well in the farming industry.
According to MAFSE, the Government of Belize through the RRB Programme will also provide separate funding to improve two miles of road so that the farmers can more efficiently and effectively take their produce to the markets in the area.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment and Area Representative Mike Espat gave the welcome address at the signing of the matching grant fund.
The agreement with Los Buenos Amigos Cooperative Society Limited is part of the six-year Resilient Rural Belize (RRB) programme the Government of Belize has undertaken with financing totalling BZ$40 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and participating beneficiaries. The RRB programme has the objective of minimizing the impacts of climatic and economic events on small farmers while supporting sustainable market access for their produce.
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