Presenting the agriculture aspect of the economic plan for Belize was Minister of Agriculture, Godwin Hulse. According to Hulse, the plan focuses on climate resilience of the agriculture sector, post COVID recovery, and the diversification of the agriculture sector. He also mentioned that the plan was developed after engaging all stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
Gondwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture: “We are also working to conclude a $50 million dollar loan with the World Bank to ensure that our farmers will be climate-resilient; that is to sustain production during drought or flood periods. Under the economic recovery goals we have determined that in fact, you have to develop a program within the country to sustain a Buy Local campaign to encourage consumers to support the purchase of local products that is already underway and very recently we passed an SI which gives the authority to the ministry to prevent importation of certain products that are produced in Belize without the necessary licenses. Notwithstanding that we’re in a free market and notwithstanding that we have these free trade agreements we must protect locally produced products and at the same time encourage that the quality is improved. We cannot ask for citizens, of course to buy Belize and we don’t have high quality products.”
In an effort to increase efficiency within the agriculture market the government has devised a plan to utilize the internet as a marketing medium. Agri-links is a website where farmers can post their products that are on sale. Minister Hulse explained more.
Gondwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture: “We have developed a program called Agri-links and what that is it is a program that links the farmer with the consumer. We’re doing it now at the wholesale level but it is a digital platform. The way it really works is farmer can take his cellphone take a picture of his produce go on the link and the marketing board hosts it and the wholesaler can see it and decide I want to buy that and we link the two to negotiate their prices etc. As we move forward with this particular program we’ll be able to facilitate some storage and some transportation. The beautiful thing about that program all the IT work was developed locally here in Belize by young entrepreneurs with high capacity to do web sites and apps and this sort of thing.”
Agri-links was created with the view of supporting small farmers to sell their products faster and to eliminate wastage.