Find Agriculture expertise in Belize
Agriculture remains a vital part of the economy of Belize, providing over 70% of the country’s total foreign exchange earnings, contributing 12% to the GDP (2010) and employing almost a third of the total workforce. Agricultural land is fairly evenly divided between pasture, and that planted with a variety of permanent and annual crops. Collectively arable land and land under permanent crops or pasture accounted for 6.7% of land area in 2009. However, agriculture in the country has traditionally operated by the system of milpa (shifting cultivation), which involves the annual clearing of new land for crop production. The frequency of the practice is changing as increasing land pressure means the system is no longer sustainable. As a result a greater number of farmers are using cleared land permanently.
The industry has been traditionally sub-divided into two sectors: a well-developed export sector which deals with sugar, citrus and bananas, and subsistence farming which contributes to local food supplies. There has been a more recent development of non-traditional exports, including papaya, hot peppers and fresh fruit to the United States, and organic cacao used in Green and Black’s fair-trade chocolate. In 2010 the most lucrative export was bananas, generating $41,283,000 for the economy. The country has also seen increased rearing of livestock, helping in moves to become self-sufficient for fresh meat and poultry. Some of the beef and pork produced is exported to Honduras and Guatemala. For the main export goods, the United States remains the major partner, followed by the United Kingdom, with a small but significant market present in Thailand. At the public sector level, the industry is administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which focuses on rural development and the use of agriculture for economic growth and to relieve poverty.
The nature of agricultural exports in Belize is altering, with changes in European Union preferences threatening the sugar and banana industries. The sector will need to continue to diversify in the future to retain its levels of foreign exchange from exports. The industry is responding to this pressure and evolving. Recent initiatives included an expansion in soybean production in order to reduce the cost of imported animal feed and cooking oil.
The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute is helping with research to improve seed quality and small-scale production in the country.
The Ministry of Agriculture has four main focus areas of development – livestock development, crop development, fruit tree development and agro-processing. Their research programmes have focused on the development of post-harvest management techniques and storage facilities.
|Agriculture organisations in Belize|
|Prosser Fertilizer and Agrotec Company Ltd||