Belize’s citrus exports increased during the first two months of this year when compared to the same period last year. According to the Statistical Institute of Belize, citrus exports value increased by one point eight million dollars. This is due largely to the increased of orange concentrate exports, coupled with strong sales of grapefruit concentrate and grapefruit oil. Today Agriculture Minister, Godwin Hulse, told the media that these positive developments will be maintained.
Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture: “First of all the Social Security Board has made funds available to citrus farmers so that they can replant; that has already been approved and that is on it’s way. They are also looking into moving into pineapples as well because they want to reform that from just a citrus thing to a juice thing so to speak- that’s the fist issue. The second issue though at the board level AMBEV who is a major shareholder has appointed a new director to replace Henry Cantun, I think his name is Jose Arrias. AMBEV is now looking at how they can get a little bit more involved, they have been talking to a company called Prodalim, which is a big company in Europe and also to be able to expand the capacity of the processing plant in other areas; tangerine, mangerine, pineapples etc. The CGA themselves have a citrus nursery which they are not promoting as I understand it HLB resistant but tolerant varieties; in other words you don’t go look at a 75 year old tree you are going to look at about 20 year old trees but they will be producing as they go along and we are looking at how we can then manage the legislation to support that basically. I understand from Henry that this year we are looking at maybe 2.9 to maybe 3 million boxes which is a tremendous reduction but the prices are still good. I am not one of those persons at all that says the industry is dead the same way I said sugar is not dead, nothing is dead. Why? Because forever people will be drinking juices, forever people will have orange juice. Brazil is struggling, Miami is struggling, Belize is struggling but we have the wherewithal to ride over this. What it needs is that coordinated and cooperative effort to go there and that is what the Ministry is trying to bring.”
Recently stakeholders expressed concerns over the contraband of lime.