Farmers to get post-Hurricane Lisa assistance
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will provide digital vouchers to more than 700 registered smallholder farmers and their families to support the recovery of livelihoods lost after Hurricane Lisa hit in November 2022. Speaking at yesterday’s launch, Minister Jose Mai said the assistance is timely.
Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “Through this assistance the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Enterprise and the World Food Program will assist seven hundred and twenty seven small holder farmers. The assistance will be provided through as mentioned before the digital platform using Digi Wallet as the local moving money service provider. The assistance is broken down into two components with the first being a $700 Belize dollar redeemable voucher that farmers can use to purchase agriculture inputs and small equipment at approved merchants. The second is a $300 Belize dollar unconditional cash which farmers can use to purchase at any Digi Wallet approved store or withdrawal redeem cash. The passage of Hurricane Lisa has shown the vulnerability and risk farmers face on a daily basis whether it’s a hurricane, a drought or other natural and manmade disasters. The support provided by the World Food Program with funding from the Italian Government and the Later Day Saints Charity will be of great benefit to the affected farmers and also assist with the recovery efforts.”
Lisa, a category 1 hurricane, affected 93 rural communities where the country’s main areas of production of grains and vegetables are located. It damaged commodities such as vegetables, fruit trees, sugarcane, grains, and livestock, as well as agricultural infrastructure. The WFP’s Regis Chapman also said this will provide opportunities for women and families.
Regis Chapman, WFP Representative and Country Director: “Hurricane Lisa recovery assistance program will provide assistance to small holder farmers that were impacted by the hurricane. The assistance provided will again utilize that same Digi Wallet platform and that not only empowers small holder farmers with greater flexibility to make payments either with cash or via mobile transfer but it also contributes to financial inclusion and empowerment of women when used correctly. Through this program we’ve had the pleasure to to collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprises and small holder farmers as was mentioned will receive approximately $1,000 Belizean dollars split between a targeted voucher that will allow them to purchase agricultural inputs in time for the next agricultural season as well as unconditional cash that allows those households to make choices to meet their other needs as well. The program will directly assist seven hundred and twenty seven registered small holder farmers to recover their livelihoods and ensure that they’re able to get back to their agricultural and livestock practices and better contribute to their families as well as the broader country’s food security.”
Total damages in the agriculture sector were estimated by National Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis to be nearly 20 million Belize dollars.