For over one year now the sugar cane farmers have been waiting for the relief that the Government had announced amid last year’s drought. Today the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Godwin Hulse announced that they are in the process of allocating 60% of the CDB US $1 million Sugar Cane Farmers drought relief fund for disbursement. This fund aims to provide farmers assistance and to invest in climate smart agriculture.
Godwin Hulse, Minister of Food and Agriculture: “We’re pleased to announce that we have now are just to procure 60% of that million dollars which is $1.2 million Belize dollars; we should be disbursing that in September but in addition to that – and that will affect some three thousand six hundred and forty four cane farmers – but in addition to that $2 million dollars under this program that we’re launching today we have another million US dollars for cane farmers so that’s another $2 million dollars so that makes $4 million dollars for cane farmers. But in addition to that we’re also giving out this $500 in which some three thousand almost cane farmers will benefit and that will take the amount of money to be disbursed to cane farmers to close to $5 million dollars. It will be two from CDB, two from this World Bank by virtue of vouchers and the cash transfer is $475,500 US which is nine hundred thousand basically Belize dollars so it’s close to $5 million dollars that goes to cane farmers which shows our commitment to the sugar industry particularly up north. To the hard working cane farmers we understand all the difficulty they had. There was a lot of noise about some cane that BSI couldn’t take in and who should pay for it well this fund is part of that. We heard the concern when they had the difficulty with the cane that could not be taken in and had to be thrown and some in the field because of mud and so we urged the World Bank to allocate as part of this relief another million dollars to help cane farmers in that regard and of course the $500 per cane farmer, female particularly, and the males below twenty which came up to the other $475,000”
Andrew Harrison, the Chief Agriculture Officer explained how these funds will be disbursed to farmers in September.
Andrew Harrison, Chief Agriculture Officer, Ministry of Food and Agriculture: “What will be done is that the selection of the beneficiaries has been done by the usage of the formula using the recipient delivery times the total relief of funds divided by the total tons delivered for that year.- we’re talking for the season 2018-2019 season cane that was harvested in 2019. So therefore we have roughly the $1.2 million Belize dollars that will be distributed through the district agriculture office in Corozal Town and in Orange Walk at Yo Creek Station. They will receive the vouchers there where we also will follow the protocols that have been established by the other release that we must follow the protocols of the COVID and the farmers will be contacted to come and get their vouchers at the stations.”
Minister Hulse noted that the funds will not be handled by the Ministry but by the World Bank through the Social Investment Fund. They are only assisting them with data through the Belize Agricultural Information Management System (BAIMS).