At the end of a meeting held on Monday between the Citrus Growers’ Association, the Belize Citrus Mutual group and the Ministry of Agriculture, several important matters were agreed upon. The meeting was primarily to discuss the performance of the citrus crop season. With that came a number of related issues of concern to the stakeholders. Overall, the Ministry and the two citrus groups will be working together to increase production for the new season as explained by the CEO for the Citrus Growers Association, Dr. Henry Anderson.
Dr. Henry Anderson – CEO, Citrus Growers Association
“We now have better access to financing the Social Security Board approved $16.9 million dollars to the Citrus Industry for the planting of both citrus and pineapple so $6.9 million of that is earmarked for the Citrus Products of Belize Limited and the remaining $10 million is open to growers to access directly from the SSB. What that will do is that that will add probably another 1,500-2,000 acres of citrus to the industry and allow the growers to take out the old uneconomic citrus trees and do proper land preparation, planting more trees per acre and doing the proper four pronged approach to control HOB. That four pronged approach is to control the vector that spreads the disease, to plant only certified trees, to take out the sick and uneconomic trees and to have a holistic nutrition program to feed the trees. So at the meeting on Monday we also discussed the approach to dealing with HOB and it was unanimously reaffirmed that all parties are advocating for the four pronged approach and through the Ministry BAHA will be working on strengthening its education to growers as well on that approach in addition to what our citrus research and education institute has been doing. CGA and Belize Citrus Mutual Growers will aswell be educating our growers so we look forward to one unified message of how we need to deal with the disease so those were the areas we looked at. We touched on labor, we had a little thing in the meeting just as what de risking is to our commercial banking system, access or lack of access to labor in a timely way is to agriculture because you need to take the fruits of when you need to take them off, you need to fertilize at the right time and if you don’t do those things in a timely way it costs you money and it affects the production for the following years.”
For the 2016-2017, three point two million boxes of oranges were produced, a decline from the three point two five million boxes produced during the previous season.