Guatemala seeks Belize’s help to establish Citrus Industry

Guatemala seeks Belize’s help to establish Citrus Industry

The Government of Belize continues to take steps toward revitalizing the country’s once-flourishing citrus industry. Since 2008, the sector has seen a steady decline in production due to several factors, from disease to labor shortages, and an increase in fertilizer cost. In 2022, the Briceno Administration allocated 15 million dollars in loan funding through the Development Finance Corporation to support farmers. Since then, farmers have seen an uptick in production and have obtained new varieties of citrus plants that are performing well. And, today, to build on its efforts, the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Enterprise, joined a Guatemalan Technical Delegation to chart a better way forward for Belizean citrus farmers and provide the experts with valuable knowledge. The Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai spoke about the purpose of the visit and how Belize could assist Guatemala in establishing its own citrus industry.

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture: “The Guatemalans don’t have a citrus industry. They want to start. And they asked us to support them, giving them technical assistance, technical advice, how to begin. I think if you’re aware Belize was one of the only countries that had a very good system in place where you would have certified nurseries. So we had imported clean material from sources in the US and we have grew that in a very controlled environment. And those trees are what we use on mother trees to try to curve the incidences of citrus greening. Unfortunately, you know the situation with the citrus industry in 2008, when we had citrus greening being declared all across the country. We could not control it. There was not enough interest into the industry at the time. So we picked up the industry in the lowest part in history. But I must report to you that up to now we have received, CPBL has received between 450-500 thousand boxes this year which is much better compared to last year. Now as it relates to the Guatemalans they have to begin from scratch. We have a history, we have very good experience in doing this. We have some of the best people trained in citrus industry and they have come to learn from us. This is the first bilateral meeting that we’re having with this current new Guatemalan government. I think Peten is one of the few departments that have a vice minister or minister of agriculture for the area because it’s a big area and this is the first time I’m meeting him.”

Mai added that Belize and Guatemala share many similarities in the topography and climate of both countries. He further explained how the two-day visits from the experts will assist the ministry and the likelihood of the sector making a complete rebound. 

The delegation includes the Vice Minister of Agriculture from the Department of Peten, the Governor of Peten, and other technical officers. 

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