Fruit and vegetable farmers are working with members of the Belize Tourism Industry Association of Belize City, San Pedro and Caye Caulker to put together a plan of action that will seek to have the farmers, specifically from the villages of Maskall, Bomba and Naggo Bank, market their produce to the islands. Area representative Edmond Castro shared more on the initiative.
“Right now things are kind of tight in terms of the money for infrastructure but we are in consultation over the past week to get somebody to go into the Maxboro area to see how we could ease the pain and the pressure from the people in Maxboro. We are also doing some work in the horse track area in Burrell Boom and Fresh Pond so we are currently now raising the Quashibana Creek area some four or five feet and putting in the necessary culverts in that area crossing to Bomba. We are also putting in a small bridge. We are constantly upgrading the road network to Crooked tree and the causeway. We have some challenges because when the road was built there it was built out of the rotten material and mud so it’s okay if you only want to put six inches at a time you would not see the drop of a half inch or so but now that we have raised it some four of five feet it’s taking pressure so the material has to set before it could stabilize so we are working non stop to make sure that we ease the pain and the pressure from the rural people here in these communities.”
According to Castro, these farmers are already supplying about eighty percent of the fruits and vegetables to the Belize City area and with the opening up of a direct route to the islands; this could be a significant increase in production and trade for farmers in the area and a cheaper cost of living.
“Over the last two weeks we had our first meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture the cooperative department, the port authority, BTIA, the San Pedro BTIA and we put the farmers and all of us are coming together to see how we can make the link between what we will then call the Port of Bomba to San Pedro and Caye Caulker to deliver fruits and vegetables to them. Currently a farmer leaving from Maskall has to drive some 40 miles to go and sell their produce to the barge that will then come right back in front of us here across from Bomba to San Pedro or Caye Caulker is only about 11 miles as opposed to 36 miles so the hoteliers we will then invite them at some later date to join us to have the discussion so that we can sell them at farm gate prices whereby this will reduce the cost of living not just to the hoteliers or the tourism industry in San Pedro and Caye Caulker but also to the local residents once we establish their regular water taxi rates from Bomba to San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Once we establish those we will have regular runs from Corozal and Orange Walk to Bomba so that those people can go to work in the morning, come back which will then reduce the amount of traffic on the island and the need for a poor person to have to be paying for rent in Caye Caulker at a high cost and still have to maintain their family in Maskall or on the mainland.”
The first meeting of all parties took place last week.