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Ministry of Agriculture expanding cool storage pilot project to assist local farmers with preserving produce

Posted: Monday, October 31, 2022. 9:16 am CST.

By Benjamin Flowers:The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise ( MAFSE ) , is preparing to expand its cool storage pilot project, to allow more farmers access to a special storage facility for their produce.

In March, the Ministry handed over four cool storage facilities, shipping containers retrofitted with insulation and air conditioning units, for farmers to be able to store onions and potatoes to extend their shelf life during periods when the market is oversaturated with them. These four 40-foot x 8-foot containers, which were strategically placed in the Orange Walk, Corozal, Cayo, and Belize Districts, were obtained through a collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). These containers can hold up to 75,000 pounds of vegetables and are being managed by the farming cooperatives in their respective districts.

Jose Tillett, Agriculture Officer in the Project Execution Unit in the MAFSE, told Breaking Belize News that an additional container, which is being sourced through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is expected to arrive in December. Tillett said that this expansion of the project will also entail hiring a consultant to develop a manual for the use of the cool storage facilities and holding training sessions with the farmers who are receiving the unit. He noted every year, there is a point where farmers have large amounts of onions and potatoes that end up spoiling because of oversupply.

“When there’s a lot on the market, the farmers can store their onions and potatoes here, so three, four, or five months down the road, they still have access to them, they are still fresh. At the end of the day what we are trying to achieve is food security and also to reduce the importation of onions and potatoes.” Tillett said.

The Ministry had a booth at the 15th annual Japan Day festival held in Belize City on Sunday, with information on the cool storage project and the collaboration with JICA.

 

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