Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2022. 7:18 am CST.
By Hugh O’Brien: Belize’s twin economic pillars, agriculture and tourism is to receive a much needed boost with the approval of $15 million in loan funds and up to $800,000 in grant funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The $15 million funding comes under the ‘Sustainable and Inclusive Belize’ project and is intended to assist in addressing the major challenges faced by both the agriculture and tourism sector that undermine their competitiveness and sustainability. The project, which seeks to bolster revenue from agriculture and tourism, will focus on boosting the competitiveness, climate resilience, and environmental sustainability of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in both sectors.
According to an IDB press release the loan “will support sustainable tourism business plans for approximately 200 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, with a particular emphasis on those working to reduce impacts on the environment, improve climate resilience and foster digitalization and innovation. At the same time, it will target around 1,500 small farmers from low-income families that are under severe pressure from climate change to drive profitable, sustainable, and climate-resilient farming systems.”
“The funds will be used to provide gender- and culturally sensitive technical assistance to farmers to encourage good environmental practices in agriculture. Farmers will also be given financial aid by vouchers for support from technical advisors on executing their farm plans, with inputs, equipment, etc. Additionally, the loan will fund work to design and implement green business plans for around 40 groups of farmers (cooperatives, associations, etc.) and 80 micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (around 1,300 producers) and provide financial support for sustainable technologies for about a half of them. The plans will also include investments to improve market access for these businesses,” said the IDB in its press release.
The IDB loan will “benefit small farms, members of agricultural associations, and owners and employees of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in agriculture and tourism throughout the country. The funding will also target women, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, and migrants”.
Following the devastating effects of COVID-19, Belize’s economy is on the rebound with GDP growing by 12.5% in 2021 and is projected to grow another 6.5% in 2022. The IDB notes that despite this rebound in growth, Belize “must navigate lingering uncertainty and risks from the ongoing health crisis, the frequency of natural disasters, and rising inflation”.
The IDB press release also highlighted that this loan is in alignment with IDB’s Vision 2025 which is the “IDB Group’s roadmap to recovery and inclusive growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The vision’s priorities include support for small and medium enterprises, digital transformation, gender equality, regional integration, and the fight against climate change.”
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