The Punta Negra Sea Breeze Women’s Group received equipment from the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE). The women’s group received a coconut mill and a stove. Funding for the project came from the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) to increase the capacity of the women and to be able to diversify their income. TIDE’s Project Director, Caroline Oliver delivered the equipment on Friday to members Suzette Jacobs and Paula Williams. Jacobs says that the women intend to produce quality coconut oil for sale to the local market.
Caroline Oliver, TIDE Project Manager: “Through this project we have been investing in community development priorities in three of the buffer communities of the Port Honduras Marine Reserve of which Punta Negra is one. So due to COVID-19 the community which relied heavily on tourism visiting their restaurant have obviously lost a lot of income so we’re looking at income diversification in this village and so we’re really pleased to be providing equipment today which is going to help in assisting in getting their coconut oil business going. So we have a new stove, we have a coconut mill and we have been working on designing some labels so that they can start selling in the store.”
Suzette Jacobs, Member, Sea Breeze Women’s Group: “The name of the coconut oil is Punta Negra’s Best. A lot of people in Belize know that we have the best coconut oil. So from the minute they see the name Punta Negra’s Best I know it’s going to be an easy thing to sell. We are going to target Independence, Placencia, Belize City and a little in Punta Gorda. We’re talking about keeping a record of each sale. We’re doing the accounting and you know doing the profit and loss and expenses so we can improve the business by keeping a record and knowing where we are in the business. As soon as we sell the coconut oil we’re not only supporting the women you know when you support women you support the family, you will support the husband, the children, the community. So selling this coconut oil is going to do a lot of this community.”
According to Oliver, the initiative had become necessary as the restaurant which was previously constructed by TIDE via the Marfund, had contracted its operations due to the pandemic.