Belize is an independent country located on the South-eastern edge of the Yucatan Peninsula (Northern Central America), being bordered to the North by Mexico, to the South and West by Guatemala and to the East by the Caribbean Sea. It has a total land area of 22,700 km² (8,764 miles²) and population of 333,200 inhabitants (Statistical Institute of Belize, 2010). Belize is located between 15° 52´ 9″ and 18° 29′ 55″ North latitude and 87° 28″ and 89°13′ 67″ West Longitude. The climate is sub-tropical, with temperatures ranging from 21 °C (69.8 0F) from October to February, and increasing to 32.2 °C (90 0F) during May to September. The annual mean relative humidity is 81.8%, while total annual rainfall varies from 1,588 mm (62.5 in) the north to 4,290 mm (168.9 in) in the south. There are two distinct seasons: the rainy season, which normally begins in late May and lasts until November, and the dry season, which begins in December and ends in early May. Topographic variations throughout the country are responsible for major fluctuations in air temperature, humidity and rainfall.
Belize has a small open economy whose structure has changed over the last twenty years, principally decline in its primary sector. Over the past 5 years, the largest contributors to gross national income were other private service (16%), wholesale and retail trade (14%), agriculture (14%), taxes on products (16%), and manufacturing/mine/quarry (11%). In real terms the economy grew little from 2005 to 2008, compared to a 13.1% growth rate in 2000 (SIF data, 2010).
Agriculture in Belize is characterized by three main sub-sectors: a) a fairly well organized traditional export sector for sugar, banana, citrus, and marine products, b) a more traditional, small-scale farm sectors, producing food mainly for local consumption, and c) a well-integrated large-scale commercial sector (i.e. Mennonites) (FAO, Country Programming Framework for Belize: 2011-2015, 2011). About 0.8 M ha (2 M ac), or 38% of the land area, are suitable for agriculture, and about 15% of this amount is under farming every year. A recent census of farms in Belize showed that 24% of farms have less than 2 ha (4.9 ac), 33% between 2 and 8 ha (19.8 ac), and 74% of farms in the country are below 20 ha (49.4 ac) (MAF Farm Registry). Across districts, Toledo district has one fourth of farms in Belize and the highest level of concentration of small farms (77% below 8 ha (19.8 ac)). Orange Walk District is next with 22% of farms and Corozal with 21%. It is estimated that 24,000 ha (59,505 ac) is in sugar cane, 19,000 ha (46,950 ac) in citrus, 15,000 ha (37,065 ac) in corn and 61,000 ha (150,734 ac) in pastures grazed by some 80,000 head of cattle (FAO, 2011).
The input-output model of Belizean agriculture can be summarized as follows (based on Roseboom, 2009). Officially agriculture employs 27% of the population and contributes 23% of GDP. Using 2008 data, the imported agricultural inputs amounted to USD 29.6 M per annum for fuel, equipment and feed. The total value of agricultural production is approximately USD 265.7 M; comprising USD 75.5 M of food production and USD 190.2 M of export value (FAO, 2011). The agricultural sector generates 76% of the foreign exchange of Belize. Total consumption of agricultural products of the country was valued at USD 147.3 M, of which USD 71.8 M was imported food. The international trade surplus for the agricultural sector was a net USD 88.7 M for 2008 (FAO, 2011).
CARDI’s contribution to agriculture and rural development in recent years has focused on:
- 1. Improved productivity of cereal and grain legumes through introduction of high yielding varieties, improved production and protection practices, and improved harvesting and post-harvest technologies.
- 2. Increased availability of seeds of selected varieties of cereal and grain legumes for farmers which directly contribute to agricultural production.
- 3. On-farm validation of CARDI tested technologies of cereal and grain legumes production.
- 4. Enhancing hot pepper productivity through the evaluation of new varieties, improved production technologies, and evaluation of agro-chemicals for the management of insect pests.
- 5. Training of farmers in improved technologies in crop production, protection, harvest and post-harvest technologies.
- 6. Provision of problem-solving expertise in response to needs of farmers, government and other organizations or individuals in crop production and protection.
Expected Results for 2011-2013:
- 1. Increase productivity by 20% of cassava in pilot community through the availability of at least two high yielding varieties, production manual and application of best practices technologies.
- 2. Increase productivity and quality of corn and beans by 15% at two communities by the introduction of improved varieties of corn (2) and beans (2), quality seed production and improved production technologies.
- 3. Two enterprise farmer groups’ capacited in commercial seed technologies and business management practices.
- 4. Ministry of Agriculture and CARDI technicians capable of producing stock seed of corn and beans for commercial seed production by beneficiary groups.
- 5. Adequate stock seeds of selected cereal and grain legumes available for commercial production.
- 6. High quality hot pepper seeds provided to the Caribbean Chemicals.
- 7. Increased production and distribution of seeds of targeted grain crops for post-disaster recovery.
- 8. Seeds of corn, soybean and beans available for commercial production by farmers.
- 9. Enhanced capacity on factors and processes for modelling pest and disease management in relation to a changing climate.
Significant Achievements over the past three years:
- 1. Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) concepts were introduced to beneficiary farmers of five districts under contract through the Agriculture Enterprise Development for Rural Belize (AED) which was funded by European Union (EU) and managed by local United Nations Development Programme Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Belize. Introduced “pig/crop bio-digester” and the “moveable-caged poultry and crop combination” as IFS models. Five biodigesters were installed and were operating using pig waste. One chicken tractor was constructed and provide to one women group. Locally fabrication of Silage presses, fodder chopper and soybean roaster were successfully demonstrated and provided to the beneficiary groups for their utilization as part of component of the IFS.
- 2. CARDI has produced and shipped 31, 500 kg (69,300 lbs.) of open pollinated yellow corn seed, 6,000 kg (13,200 lbs.) of Red Kidney Bean seed and 4,000 kg (8,800 lbs.) of Black Bean seed to Haiti under CARICOM-CARDI support for re-vegetation component of the resuscitation of Agriculture in Haiti.
- 3. Since 2004 CARDI is annually producing seeds of open pollinated corn (White and Yellow types), soybean, cowpea and other grain legumes and supplying to farmers for commercial production.
- 4. A Manual on the Caribbean Hot Pepper Production and Post-harvest was prepared and submitted to FAO for further distribution among the Caribbean countries. A series of training workshop on Hot Pepper Production and Post-harvest Technologies was conducted for the hot pepper value chain stakeholders in Belize. Thirty-six stakeholders, including farmers and Extension Officers and Technicians of the Ministry of Agriculture and CARDI, participated in the training workshop. The objective of the training workshop was to provide training to strengthen the knowledge and skill of hot pepper value chain stakeholders in commercial production, harvesting and post-harvest handling in hot pepper as detailed in the Caribbean Hot Pepper Production and Post-harvest Manual. With an improved knowledge of production, harvesting and post-harvest technologies, it is expected that the trainees would implement best practices in these areas which would result in increased production and marketing of quality hot pepper, hence, improved incomes for the value chain stakeholder.
- 5. CARDI in collaboration with IICA in Belize under the REDSICTA Project demonstrated improved production, harvest and post-harvest technologies for white corn and black beans to 40 farmers of Jalacte and San Vincente Villages of the Toledo District through demonstration plots at each farmers plots. Motorized corn shellers were introduced for the efficient post-harvesting systems and also introduced portable dryers for drying of corn and beans to improve the quality of grains. These had a greater impact on the participating farmers and based on these interests and on CARDI and IICA’s initiatives the US Embassy funded the provision of bigger shellers and bigger dryers. These interventions has increased productivity, production and improved quality of grains for market among beneficiary groups. Based on the successful outputs of this project CARDI has been requested by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture to carry out further developmental work for basic grain seed production by small producers.
- 6. Since the food crisis of 2008 demands for cereals (especially corn) and grain legumes (especially red and black bean) have been greater in the Central American markets. Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture requested CARDI to evaluate germplasm of corn and beans which has acceptable grain quality for the target market and adapted to Belizean climatic conditions and fits in the production systems. CARDI has so far selected one high yielding variety of white corn and one variety of yellow corn. Selection of bean varieties is in progress.
- 7. The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda L., is a major pest encountered by many corn-producing farmers. Almost all of these farmers apply several applications of synthetic broad spectrum insecticides and some of these chemicals are no longer effective. Insecticidal efficacy trial was conducted for the control of the armyworm in corn. The results of the trials conducted; in which chlorfluazuron (insect growth regulator) was compared with other insecticides that were currently being used, indicated that this compound was just as, or more effective for 14 days after application than the insecticides currently being used.
- 8. CARDI is collaborating with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in the implementation of the Caribbean Agrometeorological Initiatives (CAMI) funded by the EU/CTA. One of the activities of CAMI is to develop an effective pest and disease forecasting systems through improved monitoring and use of modelling approaches. National consultations were held in ten CARICOM countries with national agriculture and meteorology officials, farmers and officials from regional agricultural organizations. These consultations were held to determine the main national pests and diseases concerns perceived to have some association with the weather and climate conditions. Black Sigatoka (Banana), Asian Citrus Psyllid (Citrus), Frog Hopper (Sugarcane) and White flies (Vegetables) were the common pest/diseases affecting the Region. Black Sigatoka disease has been selected to develop the weather related forecasting model followed by Asian Citrus Psyllid.
- Anil Sinha – CARDI Representative/Agronomist
- Hector Reyes – Graduate Assistant
- Martin Lindo – Technician
- Cornelio Tzib – Technician
- Tenesha Reynolds – Administrative Assistant
Work Programme for the Medium Term 2008-2010
Commodity development – Crops
Cereal and grain legumes
- Evaluate cereal (corn) and grain legumes (soybean and beans)
- Develop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices for corn, soybean production
- Evaluate selected vegetables germplasm
- Develop IPM practices for hot pepper and vegetables production
- Maintain germplasm of selected cereal, grain legumes and hot pepper
Development of seed banks
- Establish and manage germplasm bank
Country Highlight Reports
For highlights of work by the CARDI office in Belize, Click here
Mr Omira Avila Rostant
Partners and Collaborators