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Ministry of Agriculture, through the Bilateral Cooperation Project with Mexico, hosts five-day training for coconut farmers

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Posted: Monday, June 6, 2022. 3:36 pm CST.

Photo Credit: MAFSE

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Ministry of Agriculture, through the Bilateral Cooperation Project with Mexico, is hosting a five-day training for coconut farmers which started on Monday morning at the Ministry’s Agro-processing Unit in Central Farm.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE) said on Monday that the training is being done in cooperation with Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Mexican International Agency for Cooperation and Development (Amexcid), and the Mexico National Research Institute of Forestry, Agriculture, and Livestock (INIFAP).

“The objective of the training is to strengthen the coconut value chain through the application of good manufacturing practices in processing products and byproducts, as well consolidate the coconut production chain by pluralizing the areas of opportunity in the markets,” said MAFSE.

“The one-week training exercise is looking at the processing of coconut water, the pulp, and the husk for both green and dry coconuts, as well as coconut oil and other byproducts from coconut,” said Barry Palacio, the National Coordinator for Non-Traditional Fruit Trees.

Palacio said 23 persons are participating in the training being conducted by Mexican researchers Justo Abelardo Tepal Chale and Octavio Rojas Rodríguez from INIFAP.

“We have personnel from the agro-processing lab itself, technicians from the Ministry of Agriculture and processors from the different parts of the country,” Palacio said.

“In a sense it’s a training of trainers exercise because after they leave, we want to have that knowledge in country and we, the Ministry, will keep doing this training for the Belizean producers.”

MAFSE said that the coconut tree grows in 93 countries, due to its resistance and its ability to move long distances floating in the sea.

“All parts of the plant have the potential to be harnessed providing sustenance, food, shelter and home to its producers. The vast majority of producers are of scarce resources living in rural areas with very little extension of land for their cultivation,” said MAFSE.

Palacio reiterated that the training is a collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and INIFAP. He explained that other stakeholders that are partners with the Ministry of Agriculture are also involved.

“Overall, there is a concerted effort on the part of the Ministry to liaise with different stakeholders such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the International Trade Center (ITC), International Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) to be able to better serve the farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture has identified coconuts as a priority commodity along with pineapples, passion fruit, and soursop. So those commodities are what we are concentrating on, and we are dedicating resources to be able to better serve the farmers.

Palacio said they also have the collaboration of the Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) and the Pesticide Control Board (PCB).

“These agencies will be collaborating throughout the value chain in the production of these commodities,” he said.

Palacio added that the Head of the Chancellery, at the Mexican Embassy, Miriam Villanueva, was present for the opening of the training program on Monday.

 

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