World Bank Vice President Visits Belize to Discuss Agriculture Support Project

World Bank Vice President Visits Belize to Discuss Agriculture Support Project

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise conducted a field visit in Valley of Peace in the Cayo District along with representatives from the World Bank. The field visit was held on Monday with Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Vice President for the Latin America and the Caribbean, heading out to meet with farmers in the area. Jaramillo explained that his visit preempts an upcoming multi-million-dollar project to support agriculture in Belize. He explained how his visit to Valley of Peace ties into the upcoming project.

Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Vice President, Latin America, Caribbean Region:  “Well, we’re here at Valley of Peace where I’m very glad to see the families and farmers who have been working here for quite some time. And the World Bank supported with some funding these farmers here, particularly after COVID when things were difficult and they were able to use some of this funding to recover from the difficulties of the COVID crisis. And I’m glad to see that they’ve been thriving. They plant mainly in the summer, lots of different kinds of vegetables, and they tell me that they’ve been making progress every year, and we really hope to continue to support them in the future. Well, in agriculture, we have this project already approved, and it’s effective so the funding is available and we are hoping that this year the money will start flowing. As I said, it’s 25 million. It should be 25 million US. It should disperse gradually over the next four or five years and we’re very excited because we see a lot of potential in Belize’s farming sector and we’re really trying to help people improve their standard of living.”

The field visit was led by Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai who said that a major part of the exercise was to show the World Bank the impact of previous projects. Mai said that he feels confident in the Bank’s continued support given the developments within the agriculture sector.

Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise: “These farmers we visited here today have been beneficiaries of World Bank projects in the past and they are, I’m sure, will be beneficiaries of the next World Bank project we have coming online. The Vice President and his team want to see what we have done, how we have selected these farmers, what are the criteria and I believe that we have done a good job of showing them how we are spending money and how much more money we need for the farmers of this country. I think that they understand and they can appreciate from the statistics that agriculture has increased. Agriculture has grown in the country in only three years and I think that they also are convinced that agriculture is a sector. that the World Bank can invest in and they are certain that they will see the benefits of that investment in people. At the end of the day, these IFIs look at the social benefit. How can the country, how can the people benefit? How can you improve the lives of people? And so I think that the World Bank Vice President and the team will return to their offices, to their country, satisfied that we’ve done a good job. This project is climate resilient. So any agriculture project has to be first climate resilient. We’re talking about controlled environmental agriculture. We’re talking about irrigation systems. We’re talking about drainage. We’re talking about anything that can contribute to environmental sustainability.”

Mai added that cattle farming and agroforestry are other areas being looked at for project financing.

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