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Guatemalan delegation conducts two-day visit to citrus industry to learn from Belize’s experience

Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2024. 8:51 am CST.

Guatemalan delegation conducts visit to Belize’s citrus industry – Photo Credit: MAFSE

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: A Guatemalan delegation led by the Governor of Peten Mauricio José Acevedo Sandoval, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for the Peten Department Elmer Leonel Salazar Mejía, and the Chief of the Peten Agriculture Department Juan Carlos Barquín conducted a two-day visit to Belize’s citrus industry last Thursday and Friday.

The Guatemalan delegation was led by Governor of Peten Mauricio José Acevedo Sandoval, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for the Peten Department Elmer Leonel Salazar Mejía, and the Chief of the Peten Agriculture Department Juan Carlos Barquín.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise, the second day of the visit concluded on Friday “with an insightful tour of key facilities within the citrus industry”.

“The delegation had the unique opportunity to explore the citrus factory, the CPBL plant, and nursery,” MAFSE said.

“The final stop of the day was at the Citrus Growers Association nursery, where they gained valuable insights into the history, cultivation and management practices of the association.

“The visits highlighted the advanced techniques and innovations in citrus production and processing, fostering a fruitful exchange of knowledge and potential collaborations between the Guatemalan delegation and the Belize citrus industry,” MAFSE said.

MAFSE said the Guatemalan delegation sought to gain comprehensive insights into Belize’s citrus industry, from nursery operations and field production to processing facilities. 

“The primary focus of the visit is to understand how Belize has managed citrus greening and to evaluate the performance of new varieties of oranges and grapefruit.”

MAFSE said the visit was significant since it was the first bilateral meeting hosted with the new Guatemalan government and it reflects a shared interest in agricultural development and collaboration. 

Guatemalan delegation conducts visit to citrus nursery – Photo Credit: MAFSE

“Belize and Guatemala share similar topographical features, agricultural products, and cultural ties, making this exchange particularly valuable,” MAFSE said.

“Belize’s Ministry of Agriculture has extended its support to the Guatemalan delegation, offering technical assistance and advice.

“Belize is uniquely positioned to provide this expertise, having established the only certified nursery in the region where clean seedling materials were imported from the United States and grown under controlled conditions. These seedlings are used as mother trees to combat citrus greening,” the Ministry explained.”

MAFSE said that Belize has had significant improvement in citrus cultivation despite a widespread outbreak of citrus greening in Belize in 2008, explaining that the introduction of new disease-resistant citrus varieties has shown good promise. The Ministry said the new orange varieties planted, which are now entering production, are showing strong growth and resistance to citrus greening.

“The Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL) has reported receiving between 450,000 to 500,000 boxes of citrus this year, marking a notable increase compared to previous years,” MAFSE said.

“Furthermore, Belize has successfully exported between 40 to 50 containers of fresh fruit to CARICOM, demonstrating the resilience and recovery of the industry.

While the Guatemalan visit reiterates the importance of regional cooperation in the face of agricultural challenges in food security, “Belize’s advancements in managing citrus greening and developing disease-resistant citrus varieties serve as a valuable model for Guatemala and other countries facing similar issues.”

 

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