World Bank signs $25M USD agreement for Climate Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture Project in Belize
An agreement involving twenty-five million US dollars from the World Bank, with local farmers as the beneficiaries, was signed today in Belmopan. The memorandum of understanding essentially marks the official launch of the CRESAP (kree-sap) Project, an acronym for the Climate Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture Project. Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Belize Social Investment Fund (BSIF) and other stakeholders gathered at the show grounds this morning to sign the agreement. The idea behind the project is to financially aid farmers in shifting over to more climate resilient technologies and ways of production. Minister of Agriculture, Abelardo Mai, explained that matching grants will be available for farmers providing that the requirements are fully met.
Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture: “The project CRESAP as I said is a climate smart, climate resilient and sustainable agriculture project with the climate change the sector being affected the most is agriculture and this project will intend to find ways to mitigate the effects of climate change and there are different technologies that will be used and so this project will provide the farmers with those services. $16 million of the $25 million is grant for the farmers. We have the small farmer component and the big farmer component and so this project is important for the sustainable development of agriculture in the country. Drought is one, excess rainfall, you have rainfall when not only excess rainfall but you have rainfall when you shouldn’t have rainfall and we have as a result of that we have increase in pest and diseases for example in the bananas down south we have increase in Sigatoka, we have new pests for example we have the Atian Bean Trips which showed up in Belize unknowingly so we have a lot of incidents like these. For example in pasture right now we had the past few months we had excess rainfall which affected the growth of grass pastures and then immediately after we had dry coming in but real dry and so the pastures did not even recover after the excess moisture in the soil and now its being affected by drought so we’re seeing right now at this moment we’re seeing that the cattle farmers are going to see loses as of now you can see the cattle losing weight and so these are the effects of the weather patterns which I must say to you we should all be guilty of not managing our resources well and so this project will address that.”
Heading the project is Roberto Harrison, a former Chief Agricultural Officer in the ministry. According to Harrison, the project has four major components aimed at reducing the impact of climate change on the country’s agriculture sector. He noted that the matching grants will serve farmers by way of small infrastructural works, equipment, studies, training, consulting, and advisory services.
Roberto Harrison, Project Coordinator: “Well the project as I had mentioned earlier is a loan from the World Bank of $25 million US dollars. It has three components, well four, the first one is support in strengthening the public institutions. The second component which is the largest component is the promotion of climate smart agriculture technologies. The third is the project management itself and the fourth component looks at in the case of natural disaster the government declaring a natural disaster the emergency risk component kicks into play which means that if any uncommitted funds from the project of the $25 million loan would go towards supporting farmers for that particular disaster. In terms of the project itself the matching grant funds is perhaps the component that will benefit more so to speak the farmers because the matching grant program looks at supporting the climate smart technologies for small and large farmers. $16 million US of the $25 million will be used toward the matching grants fund. We are in discussions with financial institutions to participate and promote the program so that let’s say in window one that we have for small farmers the maximum match grant that you can get from that is $12,000 Belize dollars a small farmer.”
While the CRESAP Project falls under the Ministry of Agriculture, the day to day operations and expenditure are being overseen by the implementing agency, the Belize Social Investment Fund. The MoU was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, the Belize Agriculture Health Authority, the Pesticides Control Board, the University of Belize, the National Meteorological Service, and the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation.