Posted: Monday, April 3, 2023. 3:42 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Zoila Palma Gonzalez
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai thanked Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen for Taiwan’s assistance and extended Belize’s and his solidarity to Taiwan during the President’s visit to the National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center in Central Farm on Monday afternoon.
“Your presence with us today is evidence that the bi-lateral and technical cooperation that Taiwan shares with Belize has support at the highest level in Taiwan,” Mai said in reference to Belize’s 33-year friendship and collaboration with Taiwan.
“This long-standing friendship is founded in the principles of self-determination, territorial integrity and national sovereignty that both nations share and is made in light of the unfounded claim that Mainland China has on the Republic of China (Taiwan), and in like manner that Guatemala has on Belize,” Mai added.
“I will be a strong advocate that Belize remain steadfast in its support for Taiwan’s sovereignty and independence,” Mai promised.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen visits National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center in Central Farm on Monday. (Photo Credit: Zoila Palma Gonzalez)
Mai said Belize has a lot to learn from Taiwan’s path to economic independence focusing on developing its primary agriculture production and then proceeding to agro-processing, value adding, and overall industrial development, while moving into small-scale mechanization and modernizing its agricultural services.
“The mutual interest that our countries share has allowed the partnership between us to flourish and for Belize to enjoy the benefits of various initiatives that provide fiscal support during times of economic crisis, scholarships targeting agriculture, engineering, and other economic sectors for Belizeans to study in Taiwan, interventions that boost socio-economic development, and projects that promote value adding and economic empowerment. In the agriculture sector, we have benefited from support to specific agricultural research and development projects, agro-processing, and agri-businesses,” Mai said.
Mai said Taiwan’s collaboration has been dynamic and crucial role for Belize since the initial development of the rice industry, followed by the introduction of fruits such as guavas and plums, the strategic support through the agro-processing unit established in Central Farm, and more recently the sheep and goat sub-sectors in Belize.
Mai said the National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center, which can accommodate a total of 650 sheep and goats, is testament to the cooperation which is now in its second phase.
As a result of the Genetic Improvement in Sheep and Goat Project (Phase 1) and the Breeding Sheep and Goat Production and Guidance System Enhancement Project (Sheep Project (Phase II), Belize now has 17,264 head of sheep in Belize being reared by 474 sheep farmers.
“Those figures mark a sharp increase in comparison to recent years mainly due to the intervention from the Taiwan Government,” Mai said.
Mai made reference to the breeding stock of sheep imported for genetic improvement which has increased seven-fold. He reviewed the accomplishments achieved in close collaboration with the Taiwan Technical Mission singling out the Sheep and Goat Management Workshops on topics such as feeding management, sheep husbandry, and pasture establishment, and the lamb culinary craft workshops.
Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai addresses Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen during the President’s visit to the National Sheep and Goat Breeding Center in Central Farm on Monday. (Photo Credit: Zoila Palma Gonzalez)
“The Government of Belize and by extension the Ministry of Agriculture is now embarking on moving the sheep and goat industry further down the value chain of production,” Mai said explaining that Belize is seeking the further assistance from the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund’s (ICDF) for another phase of the sheep and goat project.
“This phase, if approved, madam president, will greatly build on what our great collaboration has achieved thus far; as well, it will enhance our capabilities in marketing, value addition and the continuous capacity building of our deserving farmers..
“The possibility of value-adding needs to be established to fetch better prices. Improvements in sheep production would allow the sheep sub-sector to strategically plan production better to meet marketing demands and ensure a sustainable and profitable industry, but we need to ensure that a functional traceability system is in place. We have the raw materials, but we need to work on being globally competitive with our products,” Mai emphasized.
The Agriculture Minister applauded the work of the Republic of China Taiwan Technical Mission.
“I would also like to commend the technical staff of the ICDF, the ROC Mission here in Belize and the Ministry of Agriculture, for all their hard work and determination to see this and other projects through successfully. On behalf of the people and Government of Belize, I once again say, Thank You,” Mai closed.
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