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Ostrich farming is coming, says BAHA Chairman Hugh O’Brien; Minister of Agriculture is all for it

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Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2022. 2:37 pm CST.

Photo Courtesy: Nefretery Nancy Marin

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) Director Hugh O’Brien said ostrich farming is coming, according to comments he gave 7 News Belize.

“The Minister of Agriculture [Jose Abelardo Mai], in particular, has already made the decision that the ostrich farming will be promoted,” said O’Brien.

“There will be efforts to encourage other people to get involved,” he said in reference to Nefretery Nancy Marin being well ahead in her bid to get her plans for ostrich farming approved.

O’Brien said that all ostriches already in Belize have to be reviewed by both BAHA and the Forestry Department as ostriches fall under the endangered species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

O’Brien said he is also in support of ostrich farming as long as it’s done properly.

“My advice, as a senior agricultural person in Belize, … would be to advise for ostrich farming to be embraced as a new activity for farming in Belize” he said, but he warned that it will require joint involvement of BAHA and the Forestry Department.

In effect, Marin had already received clearance from BAHA some time ago, but her certification was put on hold because of the Forestry Department’s CITES concerns. Belize is a signatory to CITES, so the country has to abide by its regulations and requirements.

“The decision on whether an ostrich can be grown in Belize, in terms of a policy, is a decision that has to be made primarily by the Ministry of Agriculture because it’s going to be a farm animal, but because it is an animal enlisted under CITES because it’s considered an endangered species the Forestry Department has got to be involved in any decision to grow or not to grow ostriches in Belize,” O’Brien said.

“The Forestry Department is not so much concerned about the growing of ostriches. The Forestry Department is concerned about when, whoever is growing ostriches, wants to trade the products that are produced. For those things to be traded, the Forestry Department will have to be able to issue CITES certification of origin for those products. So, if you want to grow ostriches and you’re not involving the Forestry Department you’re going to have problems when it is time for you to export or even sell your products locally,” the BAHA Director pointed out.

O’Brien said he told Marin, who already has a number of ostriches on her farm and who wants to go into ostrich farming, what the rules are. He also said that on Wednesday, the authorities were conducting the final Test Risk Analysis.

O’Brien said that if it is found that the ostriches Marin has are not going to be a threat to Belize, the next step is for her to present to the Forestry Department the origin of the ostriches she has.

“Because you can’t start a CITES certification with a blank paper when you have three or four on your farm,” said O’Brien. He also said that BAHA and the Forestry Department know that there are two or three other persons who already have ostriches in Belize and that they also must comply.

“They also have to provide that documentation if they are going to be interested in expanding their farm operations. Tell us where you got it. Even if you’ve got them illegally from Mexico, let us know which farm it came from and we’ll start from there. The next step is going to be an inspection of the farm. In this case, to make things simple, we’re going to do a joint inspection. So, BAHA and Forestry are going to go in together along with the Ministry of Agriculture and do a joint inspection and make some recommendations,” said the BAHA Chairman.

O’Brien said that Marin already has her management plan advanced so the parties concerned can work on improving that management plan.

Once Marin gets her approval in June or July, ostrich farming will be officially starting in Belize, he said.

 

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