THE CORN BUSINESS IN BELIZE

Corn in Belize is used mainly for feeding the poultry business, both broileers and layers and some goes to cattle and pigs. Spanish Lookout Mennonite agri industries consume about 4 million pounds of corn a month.

For 2011, by the time the corn crops end, the estimate by EXPERT Paul Penner, is that 120 million pounds of corn, compared to 90 million pounds grown in 2010 last year. Spanish Lookout agri industry will consume 50 million pounds and the rest of the nation of Belize will consume about 30 million pounds of corn.

Last year, Spanish Lookout exported over 20 million pounds of corn to the small island countries of CARICOM. This year, 2011, the Mennonites are shipping 5 containers a week. A container carries 50,000 lbs of corn. Most of the corn is sold to Jamaica. I wonder how they get their money out of Jamaica?

Last year the nearby Guatemalan market is bigger and they sold 14 million pounds of whole corn, across the border. The price fluctuates, as the Guatemalans buy a lot of GMO corn from the USA as it is cheaper. The USA does not export first grades of corn, they only export their rejects, which are classed as 3rd, or 4th grade. Since Guatemala buys the reject grades from the USA, they have found across the border that 100 lbs of BELIZE corn, will when ground into corn meal for tortillas and such, produce a higher quality of cornmeal, usually about 65 pounds of corn meal. There is less product of poorer quality, from the USA imported corn.

Corn growing is increasing. In 2010 local Belize farmers produced about 16,000 acres of corn, this year 2011 we are producing 20,000 acres. A lot depends on the type of soil used. Those with good black loam usually plant in April and May hoping for rains by May 20th. Early planters of corn got hit this year by rotting corn for the first planting, and had to buy seed again from Midwest Steel, the primary source of seed corn and replanted. That lopped off 25% from the expected revenues. The weather was rainy a lot this year. We didnīt have any hurricanes, but the weather was mixed. Over in Blue Creek ( another Mennonite enclave ) a lot of the farmers had not even planted corn by August. Usually they would reap in September.

There were complaints from the media of a corn shortage and that turned out to be primarily in the Orange Walk district due to exporting corn to Guatemala. Guatemalans prefer white corn for their tortilla market, but when that runs out, Belizeans double clean their corn as a substitute and it works. Running corn through the mill twice. Only certain varieties of corn make good corn meal. The added cleaning added over .10 cents a pound. Corn is tricky. For corn meal the moisture content is critical and 13.5% moisture content is optimum.

After corn comes planting of BEANS

Belize is the ONLY country exporting Red Kidney beans to CARICOM small island countries. Because of CARICOM we have preferential sales. If our crop runs into trouble, we must notify them, so that CARICOM can start the bureaucratic process of issuing waivers and permits for importing RK beans from alternate sources. Red Kidney beans season runs usually from February to January, almost a whole year. We are already running out of export RK beans and so have notified CARICOM.

BLACK EYE PEAS This crop is our fourth biggest export to CARICOM. Throughout the year, we export about 2 or 3 containers of Black Eye Peas to CARICOM per week. 50% of the crop goes to CARICOM, 2% is consumed in Belize and the rest goes to Turkey, Portugal, Middle East, Canada and the USA.

We can ship exports of hammocks, chocolate candy, solar panels, Whittaker mushrooms, and many other products. So far, no Belizean entrepreneurs have taken up the challenge to produce these items. It could be the lack of internet for entrepreneurs, or insufficient hunger driving ambition? The port town labor market cry a lot, but seem to prefer handouts and the bureaucrats seem to concentrate on teaching entrepreneurs how to braid hair, make sidewalk food, and other such minimal effect type businesses. Nobody in the government is actually teaching would be entrepreneurs how to go into real business, starting small and building your industry over a number of years. There is plenty of credit, cooperatives we know work, credit unions are common, a lot of new small government institutional banks and credit also. Nothing seems to be working done by the bureaucrats?

Western Belize Happenings