Senators also debated the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development – Climate Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture Project Loan Motion. The loan, which spans five years, is for 25 million. According to the Orders of the Day, the project is to support agriculture producers, particularly smallholder farmers, to help them transition to commercial production. It will also help more established commercial farmers and farmers’ associations to adopt climate-smart practices. Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Michael Peyrefitte questioned what are the parameters which determine what farmers are eligible for the assistance. Business Senator Kevin Herrera called for objectivity on how the spending happens while Senator Janelle Chanona for the NGOs welcomed the motion. Leader of Government business, Senator Eamon Courtenay criticized the UDP for their contributions.
Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “What’s the criteria for this funding, how do you determine who gets the funding, who decides who gets the funding ? Is there a panel ? Is there a board? Is it decided by the Ministry of Finance? None of those details we don’t know and sometimes when you flesh out the details indeed – we know what it says. You actually read it? Boy it’ll be at first. So what I’m saying Madam President is we’re still not clear as to fully how it will be implemented to the end.”
Senator Kevin Herrera: “My request to the government Madam President is that in carrying out these projects and hopefully future projects in this respect that we continue to keep it objective with respect to selection of how those those monies will be spent, keeping partisan political considerations out of it. I’m hoping that we can continue to go down that road.”
Senator Janelle Chanona: “I know the previous senator mentioned that this is timely. We would counter we are late but better late than never so we certainly support this in full manner and we would actually ask to be included in the deployment of some of these studies and work that will go into it.”
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “Madam President I thank Senator Herrera and Senator Chanona for supporting the motion. I’m not sure at the end of having listened to Senator Peyrefitte whether he’s supporting or not. What I will say though is that I am disappointed that he has come to the Senate unprepared because it’s clear that he did not read the loan agreement that was attached to the motion. The questions he posed are all answered by the loan agreement or perhaps it is that he read and didn’t understand and if it is that I will help him. The loan agreement Madam President and members of the Senate which was produced unlike in the past when these things were kept secret, was produced for the benefit of everyone so that they can read it and understand before voting on the motion. Nothing that Senator Peyrefitte will understand.”
Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “The farmers won’t get anything out of this.”
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “You hear? Let me put on the record what he’s saying. The farmers of Belize will not get anything out of this.”
Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “Right, they won’t.”
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “Just like how they are against the villages they are now against the farmers. All they want is one farm in Cayo where all the equipment ends up, where all the fertilizer ends up.”
Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “Lone computer and consultancies.”
Senate President: “Leader of government business I ask that we stick to the motion and Sentor Peyrefitte I asked that we reminded of standing order 40 B. Senator Michael Peyrefitte.”
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “Madam President I asked the question be put.”
Following the meeting, Senator Courtenay told Love News that this motion is designed to materially change the lives of farmers, whose products remain integral to Belize’s breadbasket.
Senator Eamon Courtenay: “Again we believe that’s important because it talks about moving to a more science based approach to be more resilient and to have our agricultural sector ready to deal with climate change.”
Senator Michael Peyrefitte: “Even though there was an attached agreement that attached agreement didn’t really tell you anything. And even if it were to tell you anything it’s very consultative, institutional strengthening and all those vague type of things that $25 million would be spent on I would have preferred for the money to go directly to the farmers in terms of equipment and things that they need to make the transition to becoming more green. My fear is that that money will be invested in mostly paper and talk, consultations, into this institution that institution and I would have preferred for it to go directly to the farmers.”