Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2023. 11:40 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: The revised figure for gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 is a robust 8.7 percent, down from the projected 12.1 percent trumpeted by the Government.
As we reported on Wednesday, Belize produced $5.016 billion in goods and services for 2022, an increase of $402.9 million from 2021.
Growth continues to slow in the second quarter of 2023, with the services sector pacing Belize to 2.6 percent overall growth, but the primary sector and especially agriculture suffered a steep decline of 16.7 percent.
Prime Minister John Briceño responded by noting that bananas and citrus honchos are getting together to hatch a plan for survival and the Government is seeking ideas of its own: “Citrus is at its lowest as it is right now the government and ministry of agriculture are working with CPBL and the Citrus Growers Association trying to come up with a plan to be able to revive … bananas with Sigatoka disease that has been affecting them for the past year or so again it’s starting to go up, so we were expecting some of this and as a government now we are just planning a meeting on Friday with a small group to see what are the things we need to do to continue to have growth.”
The P.M. further noted that while the slowdown was expected, spectacular growth as seen in 2021 especially and to a lesser extent 2022, would in any event have been difficult to keep up. The Opposition has tried to explain it away as recovery from the nadir of the COVID pandemic although it has been pointed out that Belize was in a recession before then.
According to Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) statistician Christopher Hulse, sugar production in the second quarter hit a recent low of 647,800 metric tons, down 18.3 percent year over year and attributed to adverse weather, lack of cane cutters and some aspects of the frog hopper pests. Banana was hit even harder, producing just 16 thousand metric tons, a decrease of 40 percent, due to the continued cost of inputs, disease pressure, adverse weather, and the labor shortage. Once proud citrus was hit the hardest, producing just 1,900 metric tons of oranges and grapefruits, down a shocking 93.1 percent from 26,700 tons last year. It suffered from both disease (citrus greening) and human factors (labor shortage, high input costs), and most of the land is being diversified into other crops.
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