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The Japan International Cooperation Agency donates to Belize

HeadlineThe Japan International Cooperation Agency donates to Belize

Photo: Hon. Alex Balona, Minister of State; Hon. Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise; Servulo Baeza attaches JICA stickers to the new equipment. Staff from the Japan Embassy look on

by Orlando Pulido

SANTA ELENA TOWN, Cayo District, Thurs. May 9, 2024

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) donated several pieces of equipment to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise at the Central Farm Agriculture Research Station in the Cayo District on Thursday evening, May 9. Belize and Japan have enjoyed cordial relations for four decades.

In a brief handing-over ceremony aimed at enhancing agricultural value chains, a representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mr. Yoshikazu Tachihara, acknowledged that Belizean farmers have been growing a wide variety of crops.

“We are very pleased to cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture, because agriculture in Belize is very important, and so now we have the project of the value chain for Belize, and also we have some other projects in the agricultural sector, and today we donate motor tiller, freezer, and a vacuum sealer,” he said.

Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai was present, as well as the Ambassador of Japan to Belize, Nobuyuki Shirakata.

Photo: L-R: Hon. Alex Balona, Minister of State; Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise; Yoshikazu Tachihara, Representative of the Japan Cooperation Agency JICA; Nobuyuki Shirakata, Ambassador of Japan to Belize.

“Our sector probably can be categorized into three of four areas — the large traditional citrus, bananas, and sugar; we have the grain sector, which is integrated vertically [in] systems controlled by the Mennonites; and then we have the small producers, the vegetable producers, those you see in the markets in the municipalities, those are the ones that this donation will help, the school gardens for example, the back yard garden; this small equipment is for that sector of agriculture sector, and so it is very beneficial to us small farmers,” said Minister Mai.

Minister Mai gave an assurance today that Belize is very food secure, exporting soybeans, corn, and rice to Central America and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He said that Belize is also food secure in meats.

Photo: JICA Representative Yoshikazu Tachihara gives a presentation while Hon. Alex Balona, Minister of State, looks on

Chief Agricultural Officer Dr. Victoriano Pascual also told us that the Ministry of Agriculture was looking at improving specific value chains—in its plan of diversification — such as coconuts, pitaya, and potatoes. The Ministry of Agriculture provided 2,000 coconut plants as well as a thousand pitaya cuttings to farmers nationwide during the rainy season last year. The new equipment, such as the rotor tillers, will help farmers in the field.

The list of equipment donated by JICA included three freezers destined for Central Farm, the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation (BMDC) in Orange Walk, and San Pedro. The two units of vacuum sealers are going to Central Farm and the BMDC in Orange Walk. The two units of motor tillers and one set of attachments will be based in Central Farm.

JICA Belize was established in the year 2000. Ambassador Nobuyuki Shirakata said Thursday that the goal for assisting the agricultural food chain was to economically revitalize the agricultural sector.

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