Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2022. 8:08 pm CST.
By Zoila Palma Gonzales: Many Belizeans are taking to social media to express their concerns about the high cost of vegetables and food products in Belize.
Recently Cabinet reviewed the rising cost of various food items, including numerous imported canned foods and some locally produced items. The extravagant price of corned beef, the poor man’s food was singled out and there are ongoing pressures on the price of bread, pork, beef and other products.
The price pressures are now being felt on many locally produced foods. The Belize Agriculture Price Information System (BAPIS) which provides information on the retail market price listed increases in the price of many food crops, including carrots and onions, as of May 13 and 14.
And, a quick trip to your grocery store and the local market will confirm the increase in the prices of imported and locally produced food and vegetables.
Farmers shared with BBN that the increase in the prices of products is largely due to the rising cost of fertilizers and pesticides used to grow crops.
For example, a 110 pound bag of fertilizer which sold for $50 prior to COVID is now selling for $140, a whopping 180% increase. The higher cost of these farm inputs is causing the hike in the prices of vegetables and fruits.
An article published by Poynter reports that the world food supply is at risk due to a global fertilizer shortage.
According to the report, prices for the ingredients in fertilizers have tripled since the start of the pandemic. This has caused a global shortage of fertilizer that will drive up food prices and lower crop harvests.
“For the first time ever, farmers the world over — all at the same time — are testing the limits of how little chemical fertilizer they can apply without devastating their yields come harvest time. Early predictions are bleak,” Bloomberg reported.
Meanwhile, a report by Reuters says that some farmers have already turned to natural alternatives such as manure.
Perhaps, Belizean farmers can also use natural and cheaper alternatives for their crops in the quest to keep prices low. Recommendations include the use of fertigation (ie. fertilizers applied via the irrigation system), using manure and compost as a source of fertilizer while contributing to long term soil improvement, inter-cropping and using legumes in the cropping system and using natural pesticides like garlic and neem. The use of integrated pest management to reduce the incidence of pests, use of microbes to improve nutrition uptake and other low cost proven technologies are highly recommended.
Consumers can try to reduce their food costs by planting easy to grow vegetables and food crops such as okra, chaya, spinach, calalloo, sweet potato, cebollin, chives, plantains, yam, cassava, sweet pepper, tomato and other crops in their backyards.
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