Ministry of Agriculture and FAO team up to strengthen Belize’s agriculture policy
The Ministry of Agriculture and the UN body, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) today launched a pair of projects under the Technical Cooperation Program (TCP). It’s to shape and solidify Belize’s agriculture policy. Cayo Correspondent Fem Cruz spoke to Minister Jose Mai at the launch this morning at the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in Belmopan.
Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “One for policy development in different areas; national agriculture policy, sea policy and the other is more of a digital support. Both our direct request from the Ministry to FAO because we’ve realized that we have certain weaknesses and deficiencies. It is unacceptable to have agriculture as the backbone of the country but yet we don’t have any sound agriculture policy so we saw that weakness and we asked FAO to help us complete that policy. There is a draft somewhere for years that never been fully completed, never been accepted and never taken to Cabinet so we hope to do that in the very near future. The second part is that we realize that while we have very good programs in place there are two weaknesses. For example we have BAIMS, Belize Agriculture Information Management System, which is good as you have it today but needs to be updated regularly or else whatever you have on there is useless. So we found that weakness and again we asked FAO to help us, support us to strengthen and so we will merge that along with what we call a marketing intelligence program so that we can have very updated information. It has to be updated frequently and has to be disseminated as much times as we can so that people can have a real picture, a real idea of what is out there for sale and at what price and what quality so again this is part of digital support for these programs. Both of these programs together have a value of about $450,000 US dollars which will be of good use to Belize to strengthen the agriculture sector in Belize.”
Crispin Moreira is the FAO Representative for Belize and today he explained why partnerships like this one are important.
Crispin Moreiera, FAO Representative, Belize: “FAO provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise to achieve it’s priorities in terms of to achieve the better production, duration, environmental and then FAO in this project for example two new projects in the next two years FAO because you know FAO is an agency specialized in food sales, security and development and then FAO provides to the minister technical assistance to implement a digital agriculture services from one side. From the other side the FAO is doing two years we achieve development strategy and pilots to the Ministry to implement a national policy in terms of seeds, strategical priority. Belize needs like the Minister said this strategy and implement procedures especially global procedures and also agriculture policy but FAO as well we will provide technical assistance in terms of global procedures and indicators to implement the strategy to regional market to put Belize in the big market in terms of agrofood system.”