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#449154 - 10/19/12 05:14 PM Belize Ag Report
Marty Offline

The November 2012 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online HERE

This Issue's Stories:

  • Fertilizer expert visits Spanish Lookout: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA) in collaboration with the ROC (Taiwan) Technical Mission (TTM) held a 2-day workshop on 25-26 July on the University of Belize, Central Farm campus, to introduce the efficient and effective application of soluble fertilizer for plant use through irrigation systems.
  • Apples of Belize: Featuring the Velvet Apple and the Red Custard Apple By Mary Susan Loan of Cristo Rey Village. Generally apples are considered a fruit that grows in the land of four seasons, not in a tropical environment. Belize and other Central American countries are also “apple” producing countries. Apple varieties in Belize include: Malley Apple, Custard Apple, Rose Apple, Velvet Apple, green and purple Star Apples, Wax Apple as well as classic Red and Yellow Apples. This article will feature the Velvet Apple and Custard Apple varieties.
  • Flame Weeding: Fighting Weeds With Fire. Flaming Provides Alternative Weapon in War on Weeds. Chemical weed control in Belize is changing to flaming methods The methods of controlling weeds by chemicals and adverse expensive products, is turning in Belize, to flame throwers. The trick apparently is to flame the plot, or land and burn the weeds, about a week after you plant the seeds. Doesn't touch the seeds and new plants, but gets rid of the weeds, and the charcoal produced enhances the fertility of the soil. As in ashes. Good article in AG REPORT issue 18. with a lot more details. Written by Francesca Camillo. You can find it online. This type of operation was popular early in the last century, and of course by the Maya milpa farmer even today, here. About the middle of the last century, commercial pesticides became cheaper, easier and popular, but the cycle of cost, advantages and such are bringing FLAMING, either spot burns, or wider field operations back in vogue. A guy by the name of Charles House is leading the revolution. He sells such farm equipment from his Earth & Sky Solutions business based in White Hall, Virginia, USA.
  • Permits Simplified! An Overview of the Import Permit Application Process for Agricultural Commodities, BAHA By: Francisco Gutierrez, Technical Director, Plant Health Services: The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) has been designated as the competent authority for agricultural health and food safety. This means BAHA is in charge of all those aspects related to veterinary services, plant protection, quarantine procedures, and regulations for safe and wholesome foods. In essence, the role of the organization is to mitigate risks associated with these broad roles. All these services are arranged into two main categories of work: export compliance and import regulations. This article focuses on the latter aspects of our work.
  • Black Pepper in Southern Belize: Visit a Tropical Kerala (India) Spice Farm… right here in Golden Stream, Toledo District Presenting The Belize Spice Farm & Botanical Gardens By Beth Roberson. One of the delights of being a writer for the Ag Report is discovering and exploring fascinating and diverse individuals and farms within Belize’s borders. One of the very richest agricultural veins we have struck is The Belize Spice Farm and its owners, Dr. Thomas Mathews and Mrs. Tessy Mathews.
  • Light Rein on Vaccination: By Marjie Olson. Here in Belize vaccines are often hard to find, or are expired, and when you own several or many horses, can be very costly…
  • BEYOND THE BACKYARD: SPUD BUCKET. Covers in detail the growing and storing of potatoes in the tropical conditions of Belize. This is knowledge under actual tropical conditions, found no place else to my knowledge in the world. We have commercial farming of potatoes in Belize, but it is nothing like they do in Canada, or Northern USA. Plenty of rice husk hulls available in Belize and apparently they make excellent storage of potatoes, in our heat conditions. ( separate article in Ag Report )
  • Blue Creek Cowboys Take the Lead By John Carr, BLPA Chairman: On July 25th, 2012 The Blue Creek Cattle Committee started a pilot testing program. This included testing for brucellosis, tuberculosis and putting identification tags in each ear. These numbers with statistics are being entered into the National Computer System located at the Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA) office. The Blue Creek cattle men had good corrals and only had to rope 15 head at one farm. While a few cattle had to be re-checked for some reactors, on the following tests they proved to be clean of brucellosis and TB infections. Most of us never thought our cattle had these problems, but it is a very comforting to be proven clean.
  • Pasture Planning By Maruja Vargas: Planning more pasture for next season? The choice of grass to plant depends on the animals you intend to graze there. For example, the choice for cattle is Brizantha, Humidicola and/or Mombasa. On the other hand, the top choices for horses are Tanzania, new hybrid “Aires” and Mombasa. All of these grasses have their origin in Africa. All have been tried and tested extensively in Belize. All are perennial. (The two legumes mentioned further into this article originate from South America. )
  • Increasing Yields With Sulfur By Cory Schurman, Sr. Agronomy Manager, Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers: Sulfur deficiencies are becoming common throughout the world. The primary reason is that in the past, soils received 15-25 pounds of sulfur (S) per acre, per year from emissions from the burning of coal, and from sulfur dioxide emissions in fuels. Now with coal plants having scrubbers, and with the use of lower sulfur fuels, and overall concern for environmental quality world-wide, growers are typically now getting much less sulfur in a year on each acre. At the same time yield levels have risen, increasing the need for sulfur, so growers are seeing increasing shortages of this secondary nutrient. The following is a list of the roles sulfur plays in plant growth and production.
  • BEL-CAR Updates: Corn, Red Kidney Beans, Black Eye Beans, New Bean Cleaning Equipment
  • Making Cocoa Powder in Belize By Kerry Goss of Goss Chocolate, Placencia
  • Potato Storage Using Rice Hulls By Dottie Feucht
  • What is a Rainy Day?
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$ October 2012
  • NBHA BELIZE RESULTS SEPT 1st 2012
  • RAISING SHEEP IN CAYO, BELIZE By Jerry B. Stevens
  • Wild Edibles of Belize Part 2 Hamelia patens Common Names: Red Head, Firebush By Dr Mandy Tsang. Also recipes for ‘Red head’ berries
  • The Stinkhorn Mushroom Dr Alessandro Mascia: Stinkhorns are one of the easiest mushrooms to identify; in one form or another they resemble phallic protrusions when mature. They are different from other mushrooms in that they spread their spores with the help of flies and carrion beetles (lovely, isn’t it!) which are attracted to the smelly, slimy spore mass that adheres to the tip or head. The stinkhorns’ most outlandish feature, however, is the unpleasant or provocative odour of the mature spore slime, which has been variously characterized as “foul,” “fetid,” ”compelling,”… ”disconcerting,”…”nauseating,” “like rotting carrion,”…and most apt and understated of all: “indiscreet.”
  • Conserving Food Freshness By Dottie Feucht: To some companies in the food industry preserve connotes adding chemicals to extend shelf life but conserve means maintaining the original flavor and texture and interrupting the aging cycle by means of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), a procedure of extracting the air from a package and replacing it with the optimum combination of oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2 ), and nitrogen (N2) for conserving its content.
  • ASK RUBBER BOOTS, Snake ID: The best snake identification book that we have found is A Field Guide to the Snakes of Belize by Tony Garel & Sharon Matola, ISBN 9968-730. Rubber Boots & family have identified many snakes with this, and found their information ultra-accurate. The preface of the book expresses the writers’ hopes that the field guide may be useful to identify snakes in the wild. Rubber Boots has found it useful both in the wild and, unfortunately, in our home as well.
  • Ag Briefs
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

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#449179 - 10/19/12 09:37 PM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
And more mangoesteens than I can eat!
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#449200 - 10/20/12 01:14 AM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Bear Offline
Doggone it, I was looking for a good field guide to snakes...but $US199.00, used,...is a bit more than I expected.

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#453929 - 12/21/12 02:58 AM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The December 2012 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online HERE

This Issue's Stories:

  • Turkey (Domesticated) (Meleagris gallopavo): By Orlando Habet The domesticated turkey is a large poultry bird. The modern domesticated form descends from the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). It was domesticated by the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica at least 2,000 years ago, with the evidence pointing to what are today the central regions of Mexico (Guerrero, Veracruz and Jalisco). Ancient Mesoamericans domesticated this subspecies, using its meat and eggs as major sources of protein and employing its feathers extensively for decorative purposes. The Aztecs associated the turkey with their god of night and sorcery, Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”), as well as the patron deity of Aztec kings and of young warriors. Domestic turkeys were taken to Europe by the Spanish. Many distinct breeds were developed in Europe. In the early 20th century, many advances were made in the breeding of turkeys, resulting in the modern breeds which are efficient meat producers and which have also been bred to produce a large breast compared to the remainder of the body.
  • GOOD PESTICIDE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FARMER RECOGNITION INITIATIVE: By Miriam Ochaeta-Serrut, MA The Pesticides Control Board (PCB), in collaboration with the Food Safety Department of the Belize Agricultural Health Authority, the Extension Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Agriculture (MNRA) and the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) in Belize is pleased to announce the commencement of a voluntary initiative designed to assist horticulture farmers in improving their pesticide management practices. Since its inception in 1988, PCB has focused on the promotion of rational pesticide management for the protection of human health and the environment among pesticide users, primarily those involved in crop production, through its national training programme for the certification of users of restricted-use pesticides. The decision to use pesticides requires great responsibility on the part of the pesticide user. “Pesticides kill not only pests, but also pests’ natural enemies; their overuse can harm farmers, consumers and the environment” (Save and Grow, FAO, 2011). The rational management of pesticides entails the judicious decision-making process carried out by the pesticide user including, but not limited to, the proper identification of the type of pest and the extent of pest damage as well as the consideration of pest control options within an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy.
  • Fair Exchange: Seed Swapping: By Mitylene Bailey I returned home from my two–year study in Taiwan with a hunger for my local greens. At my first opportunity I went to the market to seek out my favorite, calalloo, also known as vegetable amaranth. (See Issue 17 of Belize Ag Report.) As I walked around the Belize City Queen’s Square Market I spotted a few different varieties I had never noticed before. I walked up to the stall that had calalloo with the most luscious leaves and took a couple bunches home. I found myself at the market every other day taking a bunch or two home. I decided that if I started to grow my own, and a few other vegetables that I liked, it would be most convenient for me. I started browsing around the market selecting the choice vegetables and fruit with intent to collect the seeds and sow them in my own burgeoning garden. The fruit and/or vegetable that I could not retain seeds from or were not the best seed fruits I discarded and returned to the vender that sold them to me to ask for seeds. I asked the vendor that sells me the calalloo to share some of his seeds with me. He asked me what I had and I did not know what he meant. He told me that if I wanted seeds from him then I was to share some of whatever I had with him. It was then that I was made aware of the modus operandi for seed acquisition in that market: seed swapping. Joseph Lawrence, a Jamaican-born vendor at the Belize City Queen’s Square Market, decided to let me in on the seed swapping procedures; whenever he receives a new seed he plants it first to observe the plant and its growing habit on his farm. If the plant seems to have a successful life history he allows it to bloom and seed and he now has seeds ready to exchange.
  • Recent Test Shows Dangers of Genetically Modified Food: By Bill Lindo The verdict is now in -- Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) NK603 corn causes cancers in rats. September 19th, 2012 the independent team led by Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini at the CRIIGEN lab at the University of Caen published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology the findings of a two-year feeding trial of rats using Monsanto’s NK603 Roundup tolerant corn (maize) and Roundup herbicide (the brand name weedkiller containing glyphosate many GM crops are designed to resist). The research found: • Death rates in rats fed GM maize was 70% in females and 50% in males compared to the 20% and 30% in control animals. • Female death rates were 2-3 times higher than the controls. • Mammary tumors were the most common cause of death in females. • Treated male rats showed increased liver and kidney problems. Above are Photos from the study of the massive tumors caused by the GM corn & Roundup The researchers suggest the observed effects are due to the hormone-disrupting effects of Roundup and the impacts on metabolism of the GM trait that makes the corn tolerant to the chemical Roundup.
  • WEEDS: By Dr. Morris F. Keller I have been doing a lot of gardening lately, so weeds have been on my mind as well as in my garden. As a very small child, I remember crawling in the grass of our small back yard and being enthralled with the little yellow flowers that bloomed there in the spring. However, much to my amazement, no one wanted dandelions in their grass; adults spent much time and energy prying them up with a two-pronged tool - until “weed killer” came along. During my infancy and youth, we lived in a suburban neighborhood of modest one and two family homes. The home next to ours was owned by a ninety-six year old lady, Mrs. Ashley, and her middle-aged, unmarried daughter. I distinctly remember, as a small child, that Mrs. Ashley asked everyone whom she knew in the neighborhood to save dandelions for her. With these “weeds”, she made soup, tea and even wine. Mrs. Ashley obviously knew something that we did not know. When I revolted against the medical industry after healing myself of serious illness with natural methods not taught me in medical school, one of my goals was to learn how to grow my own healthy food without man-made chemicals, while preserving and improving the earth around me. I began to read books and the first book I read was called Secrets of the Soil. The first statement that jumped out at me in this book was, “a weed is a plant that you do not know yet”. Many years later, when I was an apprentice to a master organic farmer, I was assigned the lowly job of weeding his large vegetable gardens. During my long hours of toiling with a hoe in my hand, my observation showed me that first of all, the “weeds” had many holes in the leaves from being devoured by insects, much more than the leaves of the vegetables we were growing and when the weeds had been removed, the insects began to eat our valuable crop. Perhaps the insects knew something that we did not know? Now we know that many so-called weeds are edible and medicinal plants and at the very least make a good green manure or fertilizer for our gardens if turned under and allowed to rot slowly.
  • BEYOND THE BACKYARD: A Passionate Pursuit, By Jenny Wildman In London back in the sixties my Aussie and New Zealand flat mates introduced me to a dynamic duo: Pavlova and passion fruit, the first being a famed baked meringue created and named for the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, and the second said to be an absolute must as a topping: kiwi, strawberries, passion fruit and cream. Now some 40 years later I am finally growing passion fruit in my garden. Although there are over 500 species of passiflora and evidence of early cultivation in North America it is claimed to hail from South America, discovered by 15th century Spanish missionaries. As the priests cast their eyes on the glorious blooms on this vigorous vine they were struck by the design of the 10 petals, which they said represented the 10 faithful apostles (scratch 2), the 3 stigmas signifying the nails on the cross, the crown of thorns, the 5 stamens as the 5 major wounds and the tendrils as the whips. This inspired them to christen it passion fruit or so the story goes. I prefer to think it was the musky aroma and abundance of seed conjuring up passion and pleasure. There are also many cultivars from those species but commonly cultivated are two main types, purple or yellow. Mine is the purple variety that clings to almost anything with its tendrils but does require a strong frame. I would suggest a wire fence with a slight overhang at the top at about 8 feet high maximum as higher may make for treacherous harvesting, as it is capable of great heights.
  • Gimme Dat Good Black Soil: By Harold Vernon I have heard many an exclamation all over Belize that “black soil da di best!”. When people are asked just what is black soil, the answer is usually that my mother, grandpa or some relative in the rural areas always said so and as long as it is black it is good. There is both truth and falsehood in that statement and this article attempts to provide an explanation of the real situation. It is true that soils with fair amounts of sand, silt and clay and lots of organic matter are usually easy to cultivate and are usually rich with available nutrients. On the other hand, soils with lots of clay, little silt and sand with high organic matter are very heavy and difficult to cultivate and are the blackest of soils. These heavy soils are known as vertisols. So just what are good black soils and are they truly the best? The degree of blackness of soil is caused by the presence of decomposed organic matter or humus that has been converted from green leaves, dead animals and other things that were once alive. People who do composting learn very quickly that the material being composted usually turns a deepening dark brown. The same applies to the dead leaves and trees that fall to earth, decompose and become what we typically call “organic matter”. Earth worms, fungi and bacteria aid the breakdown processes and in turn contribute to a building up of organic matter.
  • Humates to the Rescue: By Dottie Feucht The importance of nitrogen (N) in the soil is well understood; what may not be well understood by farmers is the adverse long-term effect of synthetic N fertilizers on the soil. Recent research by University of Illinois scientists shows that its application over time depletes the soil of carbon and undermines the health of the soil. They discovered at the Morrow Plots, the oldest research plots in the USA, that high inputs of N stimulate soil microbes to feed and eventually that accelerated process causes the organic matter to disappear before it can become humified (i.e., humification is interrupted by removal and volatilization of carbon before it reaches the form of humus.) Plant residues that are left behind in crop production, and various tilling and residue management methods make use of that residue as a means of adding organic matter to the soil. But with synthetic N, it was found that soil microbes degrade plant residues and reduce their carbon content and nutritional content into plant available forms and long-term fully degraded carbon, which is the backbone for forming soil humus. The acceleration of microbial oxidation of humin by N stimulation reduces the carbon rich humin to the less carbon-rich humic acids, and finally to fulvic acids, which have very little carbon content. Then as soil carbon levels decline, it is more difficult for soils to store nitrogen. As the ability of the soil to store nitrogen declines, more N inputs are needed, resulting in a vicious cycle.
  • Attracting Butterflies to your Belizean Backyard: By Marguerite Fly Bevis Landscaping your yard to attract butterflies is as simple as providing food, water and shelter for all stages of the butterfly life cycle. Adult butterflies feed on nectar while caterpillars and larvae eat the leaves of specific plants, their “host” plants. You can improve your chances of attracting butterflies to your garden by implementing a few principles into your landscape and planting shrubs and flowers butterflies love. Butterflies are attracted to masses of colorful flowers in sunny locations and they need shady cool-down areas for protection when it is hot. Plant a variety of flowering annuals and perennials for mass color. Belize has a number of butterflyfriendly native plants that grow very easily. Some are so prevalent that they might be considered weeds. But once you know the beneficial ones, you can keep them in your yard, pruning and taming them to fit your landscape. One common plant countrywide is “Red Head” or “Firebush”, Hamelia patens.(See Issue 18, pg.22.) This plant grows everywhere land has been cleared.
  • THE SWEEP IN BLUE CREEK: By Dr. Miguel DePaz BACKGROUND Nov. 2012 Belize was an exporter of live cattle to Mexico in the 1980’s, but the foot and mouth disease epidemic of 2001 in the United Kingdom led to Mexico closing its borders to Belize to trade in animals and animal products. This effectively destroyed the confidence of the farmers of the Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA), as the formal trade of live cattle to Mexico stopped completely. Ever since, Belize has put as one of its priority the resumption of the export of live cattle to Mexico. In 2009 Belize commenced The Belize National Cattle Sanitary Cattle Project, financed by the European Union, Government of Belize, OIRSA/ SENASICA, BLPA and the cattle producers with the objectives of (1) demonstrating the animal health status of the national cattle herd with respect to bovine tuberculosis and bovine brucellosis and (2) implementing an animal traceability system in order to fulfil the requirements for unrestricted trade with Mexico. This project is for a period of 3 years. It is expected that the prevalence of bovine diseases is very low as it has never been found during testing of targeted herds during the past. The southern border of Mexico has a total of 1149 kilometres, of which, 956 kilometres are shared with Guatemala and 193 kilometres, with Belize. It includes the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintanna Roo.
  • Quality Poultry Products: In 1960, just 2 years after Spanish Lookout was founded, a poultry company was also founded. In 1975 that company became a co-op, Quality Poultry Products, now the leading poultry business in Belize, processing about half of the chicken in Belize and employing 130 people in Spanish Lookout. Processed chicken comes in varying sizes, depending on feed and length of time in the barn. (Chickens to be roasted are usually the largest in size.) The original plant was expanded in 1974 with another expansion in 1983. The current plant, completed in 1998 is being expanded again, incorporating HACCP standards. Over 130 poultry farmers under contract, with average lot size of 5,000, but ranging from 3,000 to 17,000 chickens, keep the supply of chickens steady through an 8 week rotation by geographical location all around the Spanish Lookout area.
  • GRAIN GROWERS IN BELIZE FORM NATIONAL ASSOCIATION: By Hugh O'Brien Over 50 grain farmers, mostly from the Cayo and Orange Walk districts have come together to form the Belize Grain Growers Association (BGGA). Registration was conducted at regional meetings that were held in October and November this year in the Corozal, Orange Walk and Cayo districts. An initial steering committee, chaired by Mr. Henry Wolfe of Spanish Lookout led the successful registration drive, and grain farmers have pledged their support to the efforts of the steering committee to organize grain growers into a formal and legal entity. For some time now, grain farmers are complaining that issues such as the high cost of inputs, availability of land, need for research into new varieties, heavy insecticide use to control armyworms, and the lack of concrete marketing arrangements, especially to facilitate exports to Guatemala under the Belize- Guatemala Partial Scope Agreement, have had serious effects on the profitability and long term sustainability of the corn industry. The desire to address these and other problems facing corn farmers as well as represent the interests of grain growers at the national level, drove the formation of the BGGA. On November 14th, the first general meeting of the BGGA was held in Spanish Lookout and the farmers were briefed on the progress made to date, and various policy issues were discussed. It was agreed that any farmer who farms an acre or more of corn, rice, beans and such grains would be allowed to join the association. Board members, once elected would serve for 2 years, and have no time limit for being on the Board.
  • Soils: By Cory Schurman What makes up soil? This is a question I get from time to time. Soil is predominately organic matter and silicon dioxide, although it also contains an assortment of various minerals. More specifically, for plants to live and grow in the soil, a balance of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon along with 14 other essential elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, zinc, boron, manganese, iron, copper, chloride, nickel, molybdenum) are needed in a high enough quantity to meet the needs of growing plants. For optimum growth and maximum crop production, growers use fertilizers to fill in soil deficiencies, which increase crop yields and quality. Farmers use soil analysis tests to determine what minerals their soils are both high and low in. From the results of the tests farmers can formulate nutrient blends that provide what the crop needs. Studying soil analysis is important for optimizing the quantity of fertilizer to be applied; that is, the correct rate can be calculated to match what the soil can hold. Furthermore, nutrient applications can be timed to maximize their effectiveness. When farmers look at crop production from this scientific method they can maximize yields and economic returns on their farm, while doing the best job environmentally. When farmers calculate their nutrient plans they should look at the following factors:
  • Internet Access and Agriculture in Belize: By Shamin Renwick Until my visit in October, Belize, in an abstract sort of way, was just another “island” in the Caribbean – up north and to one side. This is a view shared by many other Caribbean persons despite knowing that it is a Central American country. However, general background reading for a “small islander”, prior to a visit, does not prepare you for Belize. Having to go through Miami is the first indication that something is different. Then flying over the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (one of the top 5 largest coral reefs worldwide), vast areas of wetlands and great lengths of “white” roads underscore how distinctive it is. My visit was being undertaken in order to conduct research for my doctoral dissertation entitled “Planning for Food Security: Decision Making and Information Use in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Belize.” This article deals with another surprising aspect of life in Belize which I discovered in researching information use. It is the cost and quality of internet access and the implications for agriculture.
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$: A-B denotes the difference between 1st preference & second preference and sometimes between wholesale & retail and bulk or small amounts . Trend (H) means Higher over last 30 to 60 days (L) Lower (S) Steady. Prices intend on being farm gate in Belize dollars - usually price per lb
  • Light Rein - Therapeutic Horseback Riding: By Marjie Olson “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” I’ve seen it quoted by Winston Churchill, John Wayne, Roy Rogers, John Roberson Sr., John Carr and definitely me. It is true. As with a dog or cat, it has been proven that animals are a healing mechanism for many. Whether it is for an emotional healing or a helpful physical strengthening, animals of all forms have virtually performed miracles. Everyone is familiar with the leader dogs and the helper dogs, but few realize that therapeutic riding programs are a wonderful gift to people of all disabilities. I, myself, have used horses to bring about a young man’s self worth, and to create a physical strength he didn’t know could exist…Danny was born with Pervasive Developmental Disorder N.O.S. and his parents had been told, “Oh NO; don’t ever let him near horses; it will be just a disappointment for him or he could be killed.” Among his other issues, Danny had hypermobile joints and low muscle tone, but with a special little mare, who had that innate ability to understand, and his mother’s belief, one year later he was qualified to run that little barrel horse at the NBHA Youth World Championships. He not only rides 13 yrs later, he also played football through his high school career which allowed him to “fit in” and be one of the team - so important for a teenager, who is “different”.
  • BLPA –AGM – 2012: By John Carr A fairly well attended Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA) was held at HQ on October 27th, 2012. Most of the presenters focused on the upcoming cattle sweep dealing with TB and brucellosis testing and identification and registration (traceability) of every cow critter in Belize. Through ear tags, every birth, death, sale and cattle movement will be recorded. The chairman’s address echoed of major concerns for our country as it relates to economic stress, crime, corruption and other major problems. His message took a spiritual direction that recommended that if we don’t take God and biblical principles into our partnership “How and who will make Belize into that very special country we all dream about?”.
  • Current Investment in Cattle, Land, Cattle Equipment: All Belize Dollars – October 2012 – BLPA –AGM Total Investment $485,000,000- we expect these numbers to double
  • Producing Quality Hay: By Maruja Vargas Clarence Thiessen of C.T. Farm in Spanish Lookout is the year round source for quality hay for cattle, horses and sheep. Clarence has evolved a sophisticated and wellmanaged full time haying operation, which depends upon his knowledge of grasses, soils and equipment utilization. The table on page 21 lists the types of hay available, their nutrient content, average pricing, and suitability for use in cattle, horses and sheep. C.T. Farms has also tested its grasses (where marked with *) for crude protein content. Weight of square bales is between 42 and 50 pounds. Weight of round bales is approximately 900 pounds. Clarence describes bismoto as a grass midway between star grass which stands up to 24” and Bermuda average height around 10”. It is highly palatable and very appealing to horses due to its soft texture, which is similar to the texture of blue stem. C.T. Farm bales milo and RK straw in the dry season for cattle. Clarence describes these products as ‘survival’ for the dry season. He noted that cattle will generally leave the RK stems and eat only the leaves. He rarely bales straw of black eyed beans, black and kidney beans.
  • Opportunistic Foraging: By Dr Mandy Tsang, BMChB, DRCOG This time we are taking a break from the edible plant monographs; I would like to talk more about how people can incorporate foraging into their everyday life, without making it into a chore. Take every opportunity to incorporate daily life with foraging; in this way you are more likely to do it as a daily or weekly routine in your life. One simple example is to take advantage of every walk, such as going to the market or shops, to observe plant life all around you; look up at the tall trees and most importantly, look down at the ground. Abandoned plots are a absolute gem for foraging. In one plot in Punta Gorda, I spotted five different forageable foods in a tiny abandoned yard. Walk around your back-yard or land; look at the weeds that you usually pull out and refer to local people or the internet to check if any are edible.
  • Cultivating a Culinary Delight: How to Grow Pitayas: By Richard Rasp Growing pitaya cactus in your backyard or field can be rewarding when your vines produce a bountiful crop. Once your plants have matured, they can provide a nearly continuous supply of the gourmet fruit from May through November. Not only is the magentacoloured flesh a treat for your eyes and taste buds, it is also a nutritional source of betalain, known for its anti-oxidant and antiradical activity. To ensure enough pitayas for your family and friends you need to follow a few guidelines for successful cultivation. Growing pitayas takes an investment of time and money, but hopefully it will be worth the expense. It certainly is exciting to follow the progress of April’s first flower buds as they develop into blossoms that burst open in a dazzling display of white, become fertilized, and grow into fruits that you can harvest a month later. As you taste your first homegrown pitaya of the year you’ll know that it indeed was worth the effort.
  • “Apples of Belize” Featuring the Bell Fruit and Sugar Apple: By Mary Susan Loan of Cristo Rey Village Most of the apples in this series are not botanically classified as apples; however, they are commonly considered to be apples in Belize and other tropical countries. Bell Fruit Bell fruit (Syzgium Samarangense), commonly known, among other names, as wax apple, love apple, java apple, Jamaican apple, wax jambu, champoo, ohi’a, royal apple, water apple, mountain apple, cloud apple, rose apple, lembu, macepa, and jamrul fruit, is a member of the myrtaceae family. Bell fruit is a ‘cousin’ to the Mallay apple which shares many of the characteristics of the Bell fruit. The Bell fruit tree is becoming more popular in Belize, thanks in part to the introduction of the Bell fruit varieties popularly grown in Taiwan, by the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) in Central Farm, Cayo. Michael Zheng, head of horticulture, reports; “Wax apple is the most famous fruit is Taiwan; through off-season cropping the production is from November to April (normal season is from May to August).”
  • Making Artisan Cheese at Caves Branch: When Ian Anderson purchased sheep for a petting zoo at his Caves Branch Resort, cheese making was not on his mind. The petting zoo blossomed to showcase sheep, goats and chickens in an environment where children from across the country could touch and hold small animals. After collecting the eggs, egg sandwiches were served to the children and they were given glasses of sheep or goat milk to enjoy. Given Ian’s natural exploring instincts, it wasn’t long before he yearned to produce something with his milk. Internet searches yielded many recipes for cheese which he tried. Ian’s wife, Ella, and son Gabe, who was the chief taster, were supportive of the culinary venture, but encouraged him to find proper cheesemaking classes. After more prowling on the internet Ian found an article on cheesemaking by a Vermont family of professional cheese makers, the Faillace family of Three Shepherds Farm, in Warren, Vermont. In September of 2011, Ian flew to New England and took a two week course with Dr. Larry and Linda Faillace on their farm. On his return, Ian again tackled cheesemaking, beginning with one gallon batches, working up to the current 30 gallons per day production. Caves Branch now has a 500 sq. ft. working cheese kitchen, with a 250 sq. ft. wine and cheese tasting room attached. There is a glass half wall enabling tasters to watch what is going on in the kitchen. A 12 x 14 walk-in aging room kept at 55° F completes the set up. A relationship with the Vermont Faillaces has resulted in their visiting Caves Branch on various occasions as Ian continues improvements in the facility and expands his product line. Currently all cheeses are made with cow’s milk, purchased from a neighbor’s dairy. This winter, Caves Branch will be importing both milk goats and more sheep from the U.S.A.
  • Cattle Population by District: Chart estimates prepared by BLPA, October 2012. Population on Farms
  • Ag Briefs: U.S. slipping as corn export leader, U.K. farm incomes are expected to plateau in 2013,
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

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#459936 - 03/11/13 01:02 PM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The March-April 2013 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online HERE

This Issue's Stories:

  • FRUIT-FULL: SOLAR DRIED FRUITS OF BELIZE: By Jack Nightingale ‘Fruit-Full’, producing organic, high quality, solar-dried fruits, is a business project designed to bring sustainable futures to the indigenous and native populations of the Central American and Caribbean region. Located in southern Belize, Fruit-Full works with Sustainable Harvest International (Belize) and Plenty Belize, non-governmental organizations associated with agriculture, through trainings and field work. The products of Fruit-Full are the maximum health and quality tropical fruits of the region, dehydrated in solar dryers and full of nutrition. Our motto, “nothing added but the sun” holds for all fruits except mammee, cashew fruit and star fruit (carambola), which have honey added because we have found it enhances the finished product. Drying fruit is labor intensive and quality handling is the watchword. All participants, from farmers through processors and shippers, are aware of the need for quality. Drying Technology There are two known solar drying techniques: direct drying and indirect drying. The most technical aspects are with indirect drying methods. The equipment can be expensive to build and require motor driven fans to move the heated air. Direct drying is simple technology but the box design is important. Fruit-Full employs direct drying technology and has developed an industrial form of direct dryer using angle iron, plywood or cement board, table cloth plastic and insect screen for fruit support. Our design allows for local maintenance at relatively low cost which is another reason we have chosen direct drying.
  • To THE EDITOR: Thank you for the opportunity to express an opinion in your newsletter. I have had the honor and great privilege to work for decades with traditional healers of Belize to record and preserve their ancient systems of medicine. With Dr. Michael Balick of the New York Botanical Garden, we have published several books on the subject. This year, Oxford University Press will publish The Ethnobotany of Belize, a 700 page tome that represents our work with man and the land in Belize. I have just finished reading a report on the website of The Organic Consumers Association of America entitled, GMO Myths and Truths. As an organic farmer in Belize since 1976, I am concerned that the safety and integrity of our food supply is on the brink of a dangerous and major shift. Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) crops are promoted on the basis of a range of farreaching claims from the GM crop industry and its supporters. They say that GM crops: ●● Are an extension of natural breeding and do not pose different risks from naturally bred crops ●● Are safe to eat and can be more nutritious than naturally bred crops ●● Are strictly regulated for safety
  • To THE EDITOR: While the GM issue is on the front burner here in Belize, a related issue is that of the efficacy of glyphosate as an herbicide. It comes as a package deal with glyphosate-resistant GM crops. In other words, use of glyphosate-resistant GM seed requires the farmer to also use glyphosate with the GM crop or there is no advantage to the genetic modification. Weeds resistant to it in North America, that great agricultural laboratory Belizeans can learn from, are increasing to where, according to Kent Fraser of Stratus Inc., an ag research organization (www.stratusresearch.com/blog07. htm), about half of America’s farmers have now found glyphosate resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34% of farmers in 2011. In the warmer southern states, the incidence is higher; it is 92% in Georgia. The article includes the following chart showing the rapid loss of effectiveness of glyphosate as an herbicide. Any serious deliberation about the introduction of glyphosateresistant genetically-modified crops in Belize should adequately - and squarely - address these facts along with the equally serious problem of its toxicity.
  • GMO TECHNOLOGY – FEAR OR FUTURE?: By Hugh O’Brien Belize Grain Growers Association “Cómo me arrepiento no haberme impuesto y haber dicho no a tanta novelería” Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, September 1st, 2012. “How do I regret not insisting and instead saying no to such a novel technology?” These are the words of Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, as he delivered his weekly Saturday address to the nation on September 1st, 2012. During his stunning speech, President Correa publicly apologized, saying ‘it was an error’ to have declared “Ecuador as a country free of transgenics in the Constitution”. President Correa strongly opposed what he called opposition to genetic engineering by “fundamentalists who are afraid of the truth”. Following in the footsteps of the Ecuadoran President, Mark Lynas, the environmentalist and award-winning science author, began 2013 by publicly apologized “for having spent several years ripping up GM crops” and for his role in helping to spearhead the anti-GMO movement in the 1990s. Mark Lynas was very practical as he delivered his famous speech at an Oxfam conference on January 3rd, 2013 – “You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than get hurt by GM food. In fact, the idea of being totally anti-GMO is no longer
  • Energetic Agriculture & Pests Farming Without Chemicals: When Albert Einstein’s E = mc2 burst on the world scene over eight decades ago, mankind’s knowledge of God’s universe suddenly exploded, especially after he met Frank LaMotte and Carey Reams. The trio worked out how to translate some of the secrets of God’s universe into formulas suitable for farm applications – taking apart the atom and putting it back together in farming for mankind’s sustenance. The lofty Platonic abstractions given by Einstein to Reams and LaMotte later became Dr. Carey Reams “Biological Theory of Ionization”. But for Reams’ theory to be helpful to farmers, they need instruments to measure what happens in the soil and plant. This is where Frank LaMotte, the chemist, comes in; today the LaMotte agriculture test kits and instruments (www.lamotte. com) are still the most reliable because they measure what nutrients in the soil are readily available to the roots of the plant, not just what is in the soil. Agricultural Schools of Thought Today agriculture is divided into three different schools of thought: the Organic Farming (Sir Albert Howard, and Lady Eve Balfour); Conventional Agriculture (petrochemicals/bioengineering companies and USA land-grant universities - the dominant worldview); and Energetic Agriculture (Dr. Carey Reams & Emeritus Professor Dr. William A. Albrecht).
  • ‘Apples’ of Belize Series Sugar Apple or Custard Apple: By Mary Susan Loan of Cristo Rey Village The Sugar apple is another tropical fruit that is commonly known as an apple, but the tree and fruit are not botanically members of the apple family. The Sugar apple’s botanical name is Annona squamosal. It is the most widely grown member of the over twothousand member Annonaceae family. Like most tropical fruits, different cultures have many names for this frut including, custard apple, vid anon de azocar, granadilla, saramoyo, pinyon, sakya, Buah nana. In India it is known as sita fruit, literally translated as “fruit with so many seeds the monkeys will not eat them”. Sugar apples are close cousins to the cherimoya and atemoya, which is a hybrid of the Sugar apple and the cherimoya. This delightful variety of annona tree is a semi-evergreen shrub or small tree which grows to be approximately ten to twenty feet tall, the trunk between ten and fourteen inches in diameter. The slender-to-wide dull green leaves grow to be approximately six to eight inches long. The Sugar apple tree usually flowers in May with tight buds making it a challenge for the bees to pollinate. Hand pollination with a natural fiber brush helps to increase yield. Apples generally fruit in June through early October. The twigs of the tree are known to grow in a zig-zag manner. Sugar apples produce about fifty to hundred fruits per tree in as little as two to three years, making the tree a good choice for the family ‘back yard’ garden. The tree also makes an excellent ornamental tree with its rounded canopy and long elegant branches.
  • BEYOND THE BACKYARD, PALMISTRY: By Jenny Wildman The palm: its leaf is like the spread of a hand. I thought I would talk about palms as Palm Sunday is coming up marking the beginning of the Holy week of Easter. As Jesus entered Jerusalem palms were scattered by the faithful across his path as a sign of respect. The palm has been incorporated into the services of the Christian faith where processions involve the waving of palm branches and small crosses are made from the fronds. In 1995 Columbia banned this practice as the palm species was threatened by possible extinction due to over harvesting. Indeed there has been much controversy relating to the over cutting and destruction of palms in the rainforest for the production of heart of palm and palm oil. Now also the Bay leaf is threatened as there is a much greater demand for thatch with the growth of tourist facilities aimed at using it to create ambience in design. Recently I needed to remove a 5 foot coconut tree from my driveway; so I decided to cut it and eat it. The edible part is about 2 to 3 feet of delicious white flesh which I used as fresh heart of palm salad, canned some in brine and cooked the rest with yellow ginger like cohune cabbage. None of the tree was wasted; the leaves were used for shade in the garden and the leftover parts as mulch.
  • A VISIT TO IX CHEL FARM’S ORGANIC GARDEN: By Beth Roberson & Dottie Feucht H i p p o c r a t e s ’ maxim “Let food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” is evident in the garden of Drs. Rosita Arvigo and Greg Shropshire at Ix Chel Farm. They shared some of their successful organic methods and philosophy with The Belize Ag Report during a visit to their Western Cayo District farm. Two gardens of approximately 18’ x 18’ next to their home provide herbs used in their medical practice, table food for themselves and last year over 1000 salads for participants of seminars held there. “The sun is the worst thing and the best thing,” spouts Rosita, claiming that “the sun supplies 96% of the energy to transform nutrients” for plants. But if the soil isn’t protected from the sun’s direct rays its ecology will be destroyed. Great attention is given to placement in either sun or shade, with some such as chayote requiring sun for the vines but the dampness provided by partial shade at ground level. Finding that level of sun exposure favored by each plant is essential. About 6 types of lettuces are grown in partial shade, none of them head lettuces, which are problematic due to moisture accumulation in the dense heads, promoting fungus. Also avoided for the same reason is head cabbage; instead, collards, kale, bok choy and other greens flourish. One of their favorites eaten daily is amaranth, locally known as calaloo. Although recognizing the virtues of chaya, (which requires boiling to remove toxins) they find amaranth much simpler to prepare.
  • New John Deere 8285R Tractor Arrives in Spanish Lookout: By Beth Roberson & Dottie Feucht One of the larger rubber tire tractors produced by John Deere was custom ordered and imported to Belize recently by Westrac Ltd. The 8285R model (8= the series, 285 = hp, R= premium package), manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa, U.S.A. arrived via Hyde’s Shipping for the Spanish Lookout buyer. The 8R series is John Deere’s largest series of unarticulated tractors. These range between 235 and 360 horsepower, and the newly arrived intelligent tractor sits midway in that line-up with 285 horse power. The model boasts dual front and rear wheels, along with a computerized ILS front axle, and weighs over 30,000 lbs. The ability to run on Infinitely Variable Transmission (IVT), in which precise engine and ground speed are monitored and controlled, economizes fuel consumption. In North America this tractor comes with a Tier 4 engine, which burns low sulphur diesel, but since Belize does not have L.S. Diesel, the machine was custom ordered with a Tier 2 engine. Another benefit of a Tier 2 engine, instead of Tier 4, is minimizing the use of costly emission filters and sensors. Depending on the particular chore, this 8285R requires between 7 and 11 gallons of fuel per hour. The overall machine spans 10.5’ high, by 13’ wide by 20’ long and can till or plant a width of 26-34 feet, which is equivalent to approximately 12 rows of corn at the spacing of 30’’. It can till an average of 20 acres/hour. The 8R Series also features special high-intensity discharge lighting (HID), which illuminates the field a full 360 degrees for night time use. The 70 square feet of glass in the windshield and side windows make it easy to view operations from the cab. A special air conditioning system
  • Food Safety Standards for Export to the U.S.: Belize foods exports must meet the U.S. food safety standards under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law by President Obama on January 4th 2011. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 48 million people in the U.S. get sick (1 in 6 Americans), 128,000 are hospitalized and 3000 die each year from food-borne disease illness. The FSMA strengthens the food safety system, enabling the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to better protect public health by giving FDA new tools and authorities to make certain imported foods meet the same safety standards as foods produced in the U.S. The following are among FDA’s key new import authorities and mandates: ●● Importer accountability: For the first time, importers have an explicit responsibility to verify that their foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls in place to ensure that the food they produce is safe. (Final regulation and guidance were due 1 year following enactment.) ●● Third party certification: The FSMA establishes a program through which qualified third parties can certify that foreign food facilities comply with U.S. food safety standards. This certification may be used to facilitate the entry of imports. (Establishment of a system for FDA to recognize accreditation bodies is due 2 years after enactment.)
  • Market Activity at BEL-CAR: By Dottie Feucht and Beth Roberson As the leading container exporter from Belize City, Bel-Car is working hard to fill its orders for red kidney (RK) beans and black-eyed peas. The RK bean market is good this year and Bel- Car is shipping them out as fast as they are being delivered to them by the farmers, 4 – 5 shipping containers per week bound for Jamaica. The U.S. also ships RKs to Jamaica but there are three factors currently favoring Belize (1) beans from Belize are not subject to the 40% duty the importers have to pay for U.S. beans because of the CARICOM Free Trade Agreement, (2) the drought in the U.S. reduced their yield considerably and (3) the Jamaican bins are understocked. Because of farm subsidies in the U.S. their exporters can sell beans at a lower price. When Belize does not have enough beans for the Jamaican demand, the Jamaican importers can obtain a waiver for the duty on U.S. beans and fill their bins. Bel-Car is currently able to pay their supplying farmers $1.55 vs. $1 per pound as in the past. Last year Bel-Car shipped RKs to the U.S. because they did not have enough to meet their domestic market demand. Even though 10 thousand acres of RKs are under cultivation in Orange Walk and Corozal Districts, their yields this year are reduced because of the drought they had in November and December. In Cayo the season started out dry but early rains helped the crops but the heavy rains later on damaged some of the crops; so the yield in Cayo is also not a record-breaker. The soil in northern Belize is not as good for growing corn as in Cayo, where this past season’s average yield was 4,300 pounds per acre.
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$: Dear Ag Readers: We have had a swinging time - things are moving. The first cattle have moved legally to Mexico.Even before that the very best 1000 & up steers were selling for 1.70 -1.80 per lb. Quality , heavy weights and a 55% - 56% dressed weight is the goal. Lesser size and quality brings lesser price.We had the driest December then a wet January and now in late February we need some rain. Corn and milo prices are sluggish; chicken and pigs are stronger. Farming is where you trade investment capital, high interest, unpredictable weather and uncertain markets to form a home run . It seldom happens; the uncertainty of it all makes a farmer get close to the soil and talk to the creator . With God all things are possible. All the best, John Carr
  • National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) Belize: By Marjie Olson March, 2012, was the inaugural NBHA Belize Race, held at the Belize Equestrian Academy. Excellent ground was brought in to prepare the arena, Farm Tek pro timers were purchased, fees were paid to the U.S., banners, barrels and flags were ready. And the season began. We had an amazing year! Running as a professional Barrel Racing Association that is known worldwide, and following the rules and regulations, created an atmosphere of excellent sportsmanship and professionalism. With the help of Banana Bank and Running W hauling in horses most weekends, our average show hosted 24 entries in the Open and usually 18-20 in Youth. For Belize, that’s a great number of entries and they all competed for NBHA GIST champion buckles. After a competitive season of 9 races we came to the last run and it was an exciting final Open and Youth race as three buckles were on the line. Two held and we had a tie; it was a perfect way to end the first season. We were seldom rained on, seldom over heated, no arguments, no belligerent people…just good sportsmanship, great competitors and spectators and we were blessed with good weather and safety of horses and riders. I was also blessed with Vicki Coverdale and Maruja Vargas for my announcer and times keeper, respectively, as well as the other duties they did. I am looking for another volunteer as Vicki has moved to colder pastures. Seriously…we need more help and people to offer to set barrels, keep times, announce, take entries, and pay attention for judgment calls. It’s a busy day and I have to have help. SO please, volunteer.
  • Chasing Belize Coconut Industry: The benefits of coconut are so high that worldwide demand exceeds production. According to Manuel Trujillo, National Crops Coordinator, at Central Farm, current production levels in Belize do not meet the local demand in Belize for coconut products let alone the vast export market. In addition to the increasing regional demand for green coconut water, recent developments in the world market have improved prospects for other higher value coconut products such as virgin coconut oil, coconut milk and derivatives as well as growth in use of by-products from coconuts husks and shells such as rubberized coir and coconut peat. Consideration is made on the use of coconut byproducts for bio-energy where this application may be viable and sustainable. Health benefits of coconut include: ●● Effectively treats kidney stones and gastritis ●● Rehydrates the body effectively ●● Maintains body fluids ●● Maintains blood pressure ●● Prevents skin cancer and dry skin Like many other tropical fruits, such as bananas, coconut water is exceptionally high in potassium.
  • Understanding Organic Matter and Poor Soil Drainage: By Harold Vernon My last article in Issue 19, Belize Ag Report, spoke about high organic matter in soils and the benefits of soil organic matter. There have been many reports of soils that have high organic matter content and yet crops perform very poorly on them. The key to understanding these soils is the amount of water retention and the sustenance of an appropriate water level. So then, just what are we to do to determine the appropriateness of the soil and its capacity to be productive for the crop we will plant? It is imperative that we know our soil first before deciding what to plant. Getting to know our soil can be done by more than one method. Firstly, the native vegetation provides the first and most important clues. Physical investigation by digging a soil pit provides another. Soils all over Belize have been studied or surveyed and reports exist that provide very good information and guides as to the types and occurrences of soils. Land in British Honduras by Charles Wright is the seminal guide and should be used along with the consequential land use studies of Northern, Central and Southern Belize. Un-cleared land or neighboring un-cleared land provides the first clues. Palmetto or short fan type palms and reeds always indicate swamp land. Cutting type grasses, shrubs and prickly bushes usually have small leaves. Fibrous grasses are present on the drier portions that are prone to periodic flooding. These soils are usually highly acidic.
  • The Humble Pulse Gains Respect and Market Share: By Beth Roberson Found in 4,000 year old Egyptian pyramids, in 11,000 year old Thailand caves, and reportedly in a Swiss Stone Age village, pulses are among the oldest cultivated crops. A staple in India, China and Asia, as well as in much of Central America for centuries, this high protein nutritious legume is beginning to be appreciated in other parts of the world. Now rediscovered and researched for fashionable and healthy culinary dishes, pulses improve the declining quality of Western diets, and serve myriad innovative purposes in processed foods. The time for pulses has come – or more accurately, returned. About 60 types of beans, grouped into 11 families by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, comprise the pulse family: (1.) dry beans (Phaseolus) - kidney bean, lima bean, Azuki Bean, Mung bean; (2.) dry broad beans - Horse bean, Broad bean and Field bean; (3.) dry peas (Piscum) - Garden pea, Protein pea; (4.) chickpeas - garbanzo Bengal gram (Cicerarietinum); (5.) dry cowpeas - black–eyed pea, blackeye bean (Vignaunguiculata); (6.) Pidgeon peas - Ahar/Toor, Congo bean, gandulels; (7.) lentils (Lens culinaris); (8.) Bambara groundnuts - earth pea; (9.) vetch - common vetch (Vicia sativa); (10.) lupins (lupines); and (11.) minor pulses, including: Lablab, Jack bean, Winged bean, Velvet bean and Yam bean. Green beans and green peas are legumes but not considered pulses; consumed green, they are classified as vegetables. Soybeans and peanuts and other oil-rich crops are likewise excluded from the pulses. In Belize our culinary pulse of choice is red kidney and for export production the black-eyed pea.
  • Belizeans Learn Beekeeping and Honey Production: “Make sure there’s no excess moisture, either from premature harvest, rainy weather, high humidity, or condensation, in your honey or it will be susceptible to fermentation,” was one emphasis of the class on beekeeping and honey production at the education center of Bridge the Gap Ministries, located near Black Man Eddy. The class was conducted by professional beekeeper and honey producer from North Dakota, Alan King, on 6 consecutive Saturdays during January and February 2013. His lectures were simultaneously translated into Spanish and Chinese for the few students who did not readily understand English. Honey, which is about 80% water when it is brought to the hive as nectar, is hygroscopic. That means it readily absorbs moisture. Anything above 18.5 percent is considered excessive and could result in the honey fermenting and spoiling. (See Rubber Boots question/answer of Belize Ag Report, Issue 17.) In Belize, extracting honey even in the driest months, usually March and April, requires careful attention to monitoring moisture. Alan stressed that the containers of extracted honey need to be capped with a tight-fitting lid. Large commercial honey producers watch their hives and test the honey that is extracted for moisture using a refractometer. As part of their natural process, bees cap the honey in the comb with wax at the right level of moisture. Extraction can begin after all the comb cells have been capped in the multiple frames of each box, called a super, that contains the bees and the frames.
  • The Effects of Corporate Funding for Agricultural Research: By Michael Brubeck The role of corporate funding of agricultural research at land grant universities, of which there are more than 100 currently in the US, is creating incentives for bias in independent university research. You hear again and again Congress and regulators clamoring for sciencebased rules, policies, and regulations. So if the rules and regulations and policies are based on science that is industry-biased, then the fallout goes beyond academic articles. It really trickles down to farmer livelihoods and consumer choice. A recent report found that nearly one quarter of research funding at land grant universities now comes from corporations, compared to less than 15 percent from the USDA. Although corporate funding of research surpassed USDA funding at these universities in the mid-1990s, the gap is now larger than ever. What’s more, a broader look at all corporate agricultural research, $7.4 billion in 2006, dwarfs the mere $5.7 billion in all public funding of agricultural research spent the same year. Influence does not end with research funding, however. In 2005, nearly one third of agricultural scientists reported consulting for private industry. Corporations endow professorships and donate money to universities in return for having buildings, labs, and wings named for them. Purdue University’s Department of Nutrition Science blatantly offers corporate affiliates “corporate visibility with students and faculty” and “commitment by faculty and administration to address [corporate] members’ needs,” in return for the $6,000 each corporate affiliate pays annually. In perhaps the most egregious cases, corporate boards and college leadership overlap. In 2009, South Dakota State’s president, for example, joined the board of directors of Monsanto, where he earns six figures each year. This appears to be a conflict of interest at face value; however let’s not jump to conclusions about the integrity of an individual without factual basis.
  • The Bias Against GMO: When we humans hold a bias concerning a certain issue, that bias can be regarded as truth by us and, we think, should become law. Another person may be of an exact opposite bias, also regarding it as truth. In other words, the owner of the bias says “There are two truths – only mine is really true and your truth is false”. One subject of bias these days concerns firearm controls – particularly in the US, but also in Belize. Simply put, a large percentage of murders happen in Belize by using knives, machetes and clubs. How can we eliminate all guns, knives, machetes and clubs? (Impossible) When the evil enemy makes me or you or my home or your home a mark, probably an equal or superior weapon gives us a chance or dissuades the evil one from coming into our presence. The evil one can get a weapon from theft, an underground store or a neighbouring country and “that’s no maybe “. We probably won’t go that route and the law makes it very difficult to keep a gun in our home or on our person. All of this adds up to Unfair – Unfair. All of this is the result of a bias that became law. When we have a bias, we search for evidence for support. We may hunt for a scientific statement that proves GMO to be harmful. (There is plenty of supporting information). Then we will ignore the implementing health and safety agencies of forty some governments where GMO producers make up to 85- 95% of the crops grown in that country. The agriculture producers in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, United States and Canada – to name a few, mostly use GMO technology. Corn is only one of the many food products that use GMO science.
  • Stressed Vegetables: It happens to all of us: the home gardeners and the mass producers. We forget to water our leafy greens or the day is particularly hot and our veggies start to wilt just a bit. A few minutes after irrigation they return to their leafy glory. Later, at harvest time the plants appear to be physically unaffected except for a few lost leaves, no significant change in flavors. No harm done, right? Wrong. We were taught that and plenty of water and sunshine encouraged by a sprinkle or two of our favorite fertilizer is essential to plant growth; but sometimes too much sunshine and just enough water needed to keep the plant alive can cause a series of events resulting in the plant producing high levels of substances which may damage our health in the long run. Research funded by ICDF conducted on Chinese kale revealed fascinating results which could cause one to rethink the nutrition content of his or her favorite green-leafy once it has been subjected to stress—water stress. Water is especially important to plants since it helps to dissolve the essential nutrients in the soil and act as a vehicle to transfer these nutrients into and throughout the plant and then shuttle any waste out. Water also combines with the energy of sunlight and nutrients from the soil in the process of photosynthesis to make the starches, sugars and proteins. These photosynthates produced by plants provide food for the plant itself as well as humans and any other animal that consume it. Plants can survive short term periods of reduced water availability which they can quickly recuperate from but this is a delicate balance that can quickly lead to permanent wilting if it is prolonged.
  • Linking the Caribbean: Conferences/Meetings 30TH West Indies Agricultural Conference (held jointly with the Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS)and the International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS) -30th June–6th July, 2013 See info on call for papers and registration on: http:// www.caestt.com Caribbean Week of Agriculture This annual event is held in a different Caribbean country every year around October/November. http://www.caribbeanweekofagriculture.ag Agricultural Associations Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS) http://cfcs.eea.uprm.edu Caribbean Agro-Economic Society http://www.caestt.com Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) http://www.caribbeanfarmers.org Institutions Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) http://www.cardi.org Inter –American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) http://www.iica.int/Eng/Pages/default.aspx FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean http://www.rlc.fao.org/en Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute http://new.paho.org/cfni/ Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre http://www.caribbeanclimate.bz/ Trade Info Agri Trade
  • HURRAH for the FIRST LEGAL EXPORT of CATTLE: Belizean ranchers had grown weary waiting for the first legal export of cattle to Mexico, but it finally happened on February 25, 2013. Forty-four heavy weight steers, assembled in a certified shipping corral in Blue Creek, Orange Walk District were loaded into a waiting Mexican truck. The double deck transport was sealed by sanitary officials and began the journey to a slaughter facility in Villa Hermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. Belize cattle prices are at an all-time high.

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#463987 - 05/10/13 12:39 PM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The May - June 2013 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online HERE

This Issue's Stories:

  • The Queen Honeybee: A miracle in the beehive: this is the best way I can describe the Queen Honeybee. Her creation and design can only have come from above. Her life begins as an egg. It looks like any ordinary worker (female) egg in the cell of a honeycomb, white, and about the size of a thin mechanical pencil lead, no more than a 1/16” long. If the worker bees see that their queen is seriously failing in egg laying capacity or health, or they know the colony is about to swarm they will set about to raise a new queen. The worker bees may take an egg and put it into a queen cell which workers have constructed from beeswax or the old queen herself will lay worker eggs in queen cells in preparation for swarming. Worker bees must then care for the larva. These selected larvae must be fed royal jelly for the entire period of larval growth from day 3 to day 10 of the 16 days of the queen’s development into an adult. The queen cell looks like a peanut and can be found on the face of a brood comb or hanging from the bottom bar of a frame that holds a comb. Worker and drone larvae are provided with royal jelly for only three days, then are switched to a diet of a mixture of honey and pollen known as “bee bread” for the balance of their larval feeding. The physiological differences that result from the different diet are a miracle! To think the feeding of royal jelly to a larva will produce this egg laying machine which can lay up to 1800 eggs in a day is incredible.
  • Bt As Organic Spray: Bt(bacterium thuringiensis) is accepted in certified organic applications as a spray. Bt normally exists in the environment and is concentrated for use as a controlling item in the caterpillar stage of a moth. Bt does not naturally penetrate the cellular wall of a plant cell. If a caterpillar consumes the cell, and the Bt is present on the exterior of the cell structure, then the Bt is active in the gut of the caterpillar, thus blocking the absorption of the nutriments of the cell that is consumed. The caterpillar has a very simple digestive tract that has only one purpose: consume and absorb the nutriments for energy to grow. Bt exists in all surroundings as a bacterium. This is the reason a moth lays hundreds to thousands of eggs; population density ensures that the species will survive, even if the environment creates a high population of Bt at that given time. As humans, we digest Bt, and our acids of the early digestive tract destroy the bacterium. This is due to the fact that the exterior of the cellular structure that we are consuming is broken down first in the digestive tract; further in the digestive tract, the cellular wall of the singular cell is broken to allow digestion of the interior components of the cell. The cellular wall of plants and animals are constructed of lipids, which allow the resistance and protective barrier of the cell internals. The RNA inside of the cell determines which items are allowed to penetrate the cellular wall and enter the interior region. Normal Bt as an external application will never penetrate the cellular wall, due to being rejected as a foreign material.
  • International Seed Treaty A Hope to Reduce Global Conflict Over Genetic Resources: On 29 June 2004 the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (popularly known as the International Seed Treaty) came into force. The treaty ensures that plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which are vital for human survival, are conserved and sustainably used, are kept accessible and in the public domain, and further, that benefits from their use are equitably and fairly distributed. The treaty was negotiated by 164 governments under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FOA) and was agreed by consensus by the FAO Conference on 3 November 2001. The Convention on Biological Diversity has welcomed it as it covers the plant genetic resources of an exceptional set of biodiversity - agricultural biodiversity - that need special treatment. Signed or acceded by 85 states including the United States and all 15 states of European Union, the ratifications of this treaty are the most rapid of any international agreement in recent history and are evenly spread between industrialized and developing countries underlining the global urgency on food security.
  • What did we learn durning March's GMO AWARENESS MONTH?:
  • The Money Trees: Aaromas and piquant flavours. The popularity of certain spices can be attributed to the practice of Humoral medicine gleaned from the ancient Greeks who taught that the balance of the major bodily fluids (humors) was the key to human health and emotions. Spices were used to stimulate the senses and it was this belief that fueled the quest for discovery and kept the spice trade booming. During medieval times Muslim traders controlled the maritime routes and, secreting their information, sold their cargoes to the middle men, the merchants of Venice. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire the Ottomans seized and blocked the trade routes, levying huge taxes on all. The Europeans not wanting to be controlled by non-Christians increased their flotillas and set out to discover alternative routes to the spice islands. Initially it was to provide for the wealthy. There was a lot at stake and nutmeg became a more lucrative commodity than gold. During such a voyage the American continent was discovered. Success in finding a way to the spice islands of Banda, Indonesia created fierce competition with nations vying for control of the spice trade. The Dutch gained Banda Island the principal place of nutmeg by death or deportation of its inhabitants. The British controlled the Isle of Run but the Dutch were prepared to go to great lengths to gain the monopoly. After much blood shed the British relinquished their hold of the neighbouring Run in exchange for New Amsterdam, now Manhattan- New York City, renamed by the Brits. The British had already smuggled out nutmeg stock and were able to replant in the Caribbean West Indies beginning with Grenada. The nutmeg tree (MyristicaFragrans) is an attractive evergreen which bears a yellow fruit that opens to reveal a red lacy covering which will make the spice mace and further a hard seed from which nutmeg comes. It is a dioecious tree having both male and female trees and unfortunately it takes about 6 years to find out which is which and 7-10 years to start bearing. It now grows in many places with tropical climates. The yellow skin is tasty but stains clothes and can be used for sweets or jams. Mace colours food a beautiful bright orange and is therefore good in sauces and stews.
  • International Seed: - use, save, sell and exchange seeds, - protect relevant traditional knowledge, - participate equitably in sharing benefits derived from the use of seeds, and - participate in national decision-making related to the conservation and sustainable use of seeds. Most of the locally developed agricultural biodiversity is now under threat and needs urgent actions to halt its privatization, modification and elimination. International and local actions are needed to counter the rapid loss of these varieties. Restrictive patents on these genes could negatively affect the food security of over 1 billion smallholder farmers in the developing world. Much work is to be done by the governing body charged with implementation of the treaty. It remains to be seen whether governments have the will to cooperate to preserve the global commons and the genetic diversity upon which the world has come to depend.
  • The Anatomy of a Weed Killer Or How Glyphosate Kills Plants: More than 30% of all herbicides sprayed anywhere on the globe contain glyphosate—the world’s bestselling weed killer. The herbicide doesn’t destroy plants directly. Glyphosate itself is only slightly toxic to plants. The chemical sets up a set of conditions that accelerates disease-causing organisms in the soil, and at the same time wipes out plant defenses against those diseases. The mechanisms are well-documented but rarely cited: - Glyphosate acts as a chelator of vital nutrients, depriving plants of the nutrients necessary for healthy plant function, - Glyphosate destroys beneficial soil organisms that help plants absorb nutrients and that also suppress disease-causing organisms, - Glyphosate interferes with photosynthesis, reduces water use efficiency, shortens root systems and causes plants to release sugars, which changes the pH of the soil, and - Glyphosate intensifies the multiplication of toxic pathogens in the soil. Glyphosate annihilates beneficial soil organisms such as Pseudomonas and Bacillus bacteria that live around the roots. Since these beneficial bacteria facilitate the uptake of plant nutrients and suppress disease-causing organisms, their untimely deaths mean the plant gets even weaker and the pathogens multiply at accelerated rates. In addition to weakening plants as cited above, glyphosate also changes the makeup of the soil and boosts the number of diseasecausing organisms. The actual plant assassins are severe diseasecausing organisms present in almost all soils not the glyphosate itself. Glyphosate dramatically promotes these severe, diseasecausing organisms which in turn overrun the weakened crops with deadly infections.
  • Energetic Agriculture & Fertilizers: Plants do not live by fertilizers, but rather from the energy they receive from fertilizers. In other words, as long as plants receive energy they will live and grow until their cycle comes to an end and they return back to dust from whence they came. As I wrote in the March/April #20 issue of the Belize Ag Report, there are three different trains of thought about agriculture -- organic, conventional and energetic agriculture. The approach to the use of fertilizers is a good example of the difference in thinking. The standard for all three is to take a soil test – a Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC). The father of this standard test is the late William Albrecht, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Soils and Chairman of the Department of Soils at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture. This test measures the “holding capacity” of soil and determines how much nutrient is theoretically being held by the clay and humus colloids. According to the CEC theory, clay and humus are negatively charged and “hold” positively charged minerals or soil nutrients. The procedure of the test is usually done at soil-labs using chemical solutions to extract nutrients. Dr. Carey Reams along with Frank LaMotte developed the LaMotte test because Dr. Reams felt that the CEC test was better for long-term planning because the CEC test told the farmer what was in the soil, but not what is available to the plant for its growing. The LaMotte procedure uses solutions for nutrient extraction which are more similar to those produced by the plant roots. The best solution is for the farmer to use both tests. The lab CEC test identifies an element and its quantity in the soil; the LaMotte test tells what is available for the plant and the amounts that the plant has for its growth.
  • Enhancing Quality and Relevance of the Curriculum UB Central Farm Campus: The Agriculture Department of the University of Belize (UBCF) in partnership with three western Canadian community colleges, namely Lakeland, Bow Valley, and Parkland, has embarked on a project to further develop its curriculum over the next three years. The outcomes at this level include the development of teaching materials and tools, and the capacity to manage a program which will offer degrees in applied agriculture at the Associate and Baccalaureate levels. The new curriculum would be demand driven and designed to meet occupational standards of local industries and vocational standards of the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies (CANTA). This initiative is the institutional development component of a wider project in CARICOM funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and entitled CARICOM Education for Employment project (C –EFE). The project which commenced its third year on 1st April, 2013 has a total budget of $(Can) 20M and aims to develop 16 programs in the region over a five year period. The Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MOEYS) selected agriculture as the program for Belize with UBCF as the lead institute for the development of a model curriculum as part of a seamless system of learning from secondary school to the Baccalaureate degree.
  • Sorghum (Milo) Production Expected to Surge Corn Substitution & Favorable Export Prospects: Sorghum bicolor, locally known as milo, was domesticated in northern Africa where it thrives in their harsh dry climate. Other names for it are durra or msumbija (Africa), jowar (India), Samshu (N. China) and kaoliang (Arabia). World leaders in sorghum production are Nigeria 12%, India 11%, Mexico 11% and the USA 10% (2011). Worldwide production has increased 66% in the last 50 years. People have relied extensively on flour and other food products from milo in Africa, northern China, Korea and India. Haiti consumes a popular sorghum grits-like porridge known as ‘pitim’. North American use is predominantly as a cattle feed. Belize usage has been mainly for livestock and that is quickly expanding into hog and chicken feeds, replacing the more costly corn. Nutritionally milo is very similar to corn. University of Wisconsin reports sorghum at slightly higher protein (avg. 9%) and fat than corn, but with a lower vitamin A content. Per pound, milo ranges from 90% to nearly 100% of corn’s feeding value. Protein in both corn and milo ranges between 7 and 11 %, and both lack lysine and other amino acids. Milo’s proteins and starches are more difficult for animals to digest. However, milo digestibility increases with cracking, rolling or grinding. Research to enhance digestibility is ongoing; some success has been shown with steam-flaking. Some varieties (hybrids) have been developed to discourage birds; these have higher tannins and phenolic compounds but have lower digestibility than other varieties.
  • Photosynthesis: Turning Sun’s Energy Into Corn: Last year I was driving from San Antonio to my sheep ranch in Cayo District when I noticed for the first time that an area near the center of a hillside of plantains had turned yellow. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before. The plants had certainly not turned yellow overnight. People who know these things tell me that the term for yellow plants in these circumstances is chlorosis. The plants in that area of the field did not have enough chlorophyll, the pigment that all farmers know makes plants green. I had seen similar color changes in many different kinds of plants and in different circumstance. The question was why does this happen? Obviously, the plants were not healthy. The growing season was good; plenty of rain and the other plants appeared a nice rich green indicating they had received fertilizer suggesting good care. So what was going on? Chlorophyll is a “magic” molecule existing right in the center of what we are in the living world. By that I mean, we have animals and plants on this earth. Animals cannot live without plants but plants can live without animals. Plants cannot live without chlorophyll, which puts that green pigment in the center of the entire process. It plays a central role because of two things: it helps plants capture the sun’s energy and transforms it into the chemical energy used by the plants to grow and produce everything plants produce. Because of the capture of sun’s energy, it also creates a storage form of energy in products like starch, protein, and fiber we find in corn, wheat, oats, and soybeans as well as in the blades of forage grasses. The second thing it does is use atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) and water to release oxygen; photosynthesis is the major source of oxygen we breathe.
  • SOYBEAN PRODUCTION SET TO TAKE OFF IN BELIZE: In 2011, Belize imported 43.2 million pounds of soybean concentrate (more commonly known as soymeal) and animal feeds valued at BZ $23.6 Million. Two countries, the United States ($12.4 Million) and Mexico ($8.7 Million), supplied 89% of our feed imports and almost all of soymeal imports come from genetically modified (GM) soybean. Approximately 75% of the soymeal imported is used to make poultry feed and most of the remaining balance is used to make pig feed. With increasing population and the growing trend in Belize to eat the lower priced white meat, particularly chickens and turkeys, the demand for soymeal will continue to increase. Belize’s production, or use of soymeal, is only a trickle when compared to the global scene, where the USA, Brazil and Argentina are the three dominant players both in terms of production and export. The processing of soybeans results in the production of 85% soymeal and therefore it is estimated that Belize would need to produce just about 50 million pounds of soybean to satisfy our national demand for soymeal. Using an average yield of 2,000 pounds per acre, a minimum of 25,000 acres is required to produce the amount of soybeans needed by Belize.
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$: A -B denotes the difference between 1st preference & second preference and sometimes between wholesale & retail a nd bulk or small amounts . Trend (H) means Higher over last 30 to 60 days (L) Lower (S) Steady. Prices intend on being farm gate in Belize dollars - usually price per lb. Dear Ag Readers: The cattle sweep is moving on and the teams have completed approximately 20,000 in the Orange Walk/Corozal Districts. The Blue Creek Cattle committee had already completed approximately 19,00 head for a total of almost 40 % of the Belize herd. They expect to finish tagging , testing for TB and brucella by mid may and then move to the Cayo/BZE. Districts. The best news is that we have not had even one animal that is diseased. We see a nice bump in citrus of almost $2 a bag and the farm price for RK beans is $160 per bag. AGRICULTURE - THE FUTURE OF BELIZE - please Government, be as business and environmentally friendly as possible . Collect revenue from taxes and the sale of government property and try to cut waste where possible. It is evident that Belize is one of God's favourite places. The exciting flora, fauna, beautiful waters, tourist sites and a climate that can grow almost anything - the mercury goes through 80ºF everyday of the year. With God All Things Are Possible - All the Best John Carr
  • Laminitis/Founder: Laminitis is a devastating hoof issue for many horses; once it has become founder, horses will always be foundered. A basic explanation: within the hoof capsules lies the Pedal Bone-Coffin Bone-P3-Distal Phalanx, the final bone of the foot. It is surrounded by laminae. The laminae holds the Pedal Bone in suspension. The laminae is “live” in that it is a blood flowing part of the hoof. The way this blood works is against gravity and any compromise to the flow can cause an ischemic necrosis of the laminae resulting in pain. The more damage done to the laminae, the bigger risk of actual founder, meaning the Pedal Bone has started to shift downward, due to the laminae dying off and not being able to support the bone in its natural position. Laminitis, before rotation has occurred, can be helped and even cured but once a horse has actually foundered, the chance of recovery is much diminished. The horse can be helped and made more comfortable, but will also have the risk of foundering again and again, each time losing more of the valuable healthy laminae and causing more pain. How do horses get laminitis? Many ways and often man made. The most common is carbohydrate overload: too much grain or quick change in feed without slowly mixing the feeds together, or too much grass at one time, not allowing a horse to be on pasture short periods of time to start and increasing availability slowly or even simply having the rain come and the grass grow to quickly, too rich.
  • Belize Equestrian Academy and Light Rein Farm: invite you to come and improve your Equine skills. Marjie Olson, an instructor with 40 years of teaching experience, can help you build your confidence and give you an outdoor physical excursion that will work your mind and your body. Wonderful lesson horses are available and you choose English or Western style. Call 663-4609 or email Shotzy08@live.com or just stop by and see what we do!
  • Moving Forward to Grasp Livestock Opportunities: Belize Ag Report writers visited with Dr. Muhammad Ibrhahim to discuss the Belizean livestock industry. Dr. Ibrahim was appointed IICA (Instituto Interamericano de Cooperation para la Agricultura) Country Director in November 2012. A Guyanese native, Dr. Ibrahim received his PhD degree at Wageningen Agriculture University in the Netherlands, prior to his 25 years with CATIE (Centro Agronomic de Investigacion y Ensenenza) in Costa Rica, where he headed CATIE’s Livestock and Environmental Program. During his time with CATIE, he participated in programs in all the Meso-American countries, including Belize. This article is a direct reflection of that enlightening visit. With world demand for beef projected to grow 3 to 4 % annually in the foreseeable future, how can production be increased in Belize without damaging our environment? Can responsible sustainable livestock ranches, in fact, capture more carbon than is created during beef production? Can these ranches then become a part of the world’s environment protection solution? These are issues which Dr. Ibrahim ponders. He feels certain that there are many viable options for both large and small Belizean ranchers, which can contribute to solving and avoiding environmental problems and also improve ranchers’ bottom lines. With plentiful arable land, good water and our low population density (15.11 persons/sq. km.), Belize is in prime position for ecological intensification of cattle production to capitalize on growing regional and international markets. Loss of prime agricultural land by conversion to tourism and residential and industrial use is happening in some of the other Central American countries, especially Costa Rica (for example, Guanacaste region). Belize is not at that crossroads currently, but it may become a consideration for us in the future.
  • History of Cattle Production in Central America: From the 1970’s to 2000, demands for cheap U.S. beef resulted in the large scale deforestation and pasture expansion in Central America which was fostered by inappropriate government policies and loans from international donor agencies. Brazil in particular has borne much criticism for its clearing and exploitation of the Amazon. The livestock industries are also heavily blamed for contributing to global warming, especially because of the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide gases produced by livestock, and because of losses in carbon stocks attributed to land use changes. There are new trends for environmentally conscious livestock products, and experts believe that productivity of existing systems can be increased, and the environment can be simultaneously protected, creating a win-win situation for an expanding beef industry. Here are some of the paths which Belizean producers may explore to increase carrying capacity and increase yield and income.
  • The Wonders of Pineapple: The next time you have iced tea try putting a slice of pineapple in it for sweetening. The area closer to the base of the fruit has more sugar content and therefore a sweeter taste and more tender texture. Not only will the pineapple give the tea a delicious flavor, it will aid your digestion because of the bromelain it contains. Bromelain is a complex mixture of substances including a group of protein-digesting enzymes called cysteine proteinases. The bromelain of the fruit is not as rich a source as that found in the core and stem which is usually extracted and made into a dietary supplement. Research studies have shown that bromelain taken as a dietary supplement reduces inflammation, heartburn, upset stomach, excessive coagulation of the blood, and certain types of tumor growth. You don’t have to take bromelain as a dietary supplement to benefit from pineapple. Even fresh pineapple has wonderful health benefits. There are 80 nutrients listed on one health food-related web site for pineapple. It is rich in Vitamin C, the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant, defending it against free radicals that attack and damage normal cells. Free radicals have been shown to promote the artery plaque build-up of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, cause the airway spasm that leads to asthma attacks, damage the cells of the colon so they become colon cancer cells, and contribute to the joint pain and disability seen in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Western Dairies – A Pioneering Enterprise: Western Dairies, a co-op known all over Belize for its dairy products, was founded by 16 farmers and business men in 1967 in two wooden buildings, about 30`x 48` in the heart of Spanish Lookout. It was not easy to establish the dairy. There was no electricity and most of the equipment was used, creating many maintenance problems, which were solved by the hard work of the board members themselves. For example ice water is needed to cool pasteurized milk to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. When the ice builder machine malfunctioned someone had to hurry to San Ignacio to buy ice and if a local repair could not be done, it was necessary to call a refrigerator man from Orange Walk. In the ‘60s that was a major trip! A boiler was needed to heat the milk. But obtaining a satisfactory boiler wasn’t easy either (see Pioneer Years in Belize pages 92-94). An old locomotive boiler was finally purchased from the government of Belize but it was on top of an 800-ft. high hill and presented a formidable task to transport it to Spanish Lookout. The boiler is actually a steel water tank with tubes installed horizontally from one end to the other. Water flows all around the tubes and hot air, fired by wood, travels in the tubes from one end to the other and out the chimney. The water in the tank turns into steam and with it the pasteurizer is heated. To get enough dry fire wood and to fire the boiler every morning was quite a job. Later a small kerosene-fired boiler was bought. But leaking pipes were a constant problem and had to be replaced with new ones. A new, modern boiler was bought in the eighties which solved most of the problems. This one served until 2002 when it was replaced with a bigger one.
  • Apples of Belize- Star Apple: Most of the apples in this series ”Apples of Belize” are not botanically classified as apples; however, they are commonly known and considered to be apples in Belize and other tropical countries around the world. The star apple tree, Chrysophyllum cainito, produces a fruit which is commonly known throughout the world as caimito; other names include cainito, star apple, golden leaf tree, abiaba, pomme du lait, milk fruit and aguay. The star apple is considered a minor fruit of the Sapotaceae family. The star apple is native to the West Indies and the lowlands of Central America. It has become naturalized in Haiti and many islands of the Caribbean and as far south as northern Peru and is also cultivated in Africa, Australia and the Philippines where star apples are a common roadside tree. Star apple trees are intolerant of cold temperatures, but thrive in tropical settings. The star apple tree is an erect tree with a short trunk and grows from twenty-five to approximately fifty feet tall. The branches are brown and hairy and exude a gummy white latex substance. The glossy dark green evergreen leaves of the tree are from three to seven inches long and two inches wide. The underside of the leaves shines with a golden color in the sun. The attractive tree is sometimes grown as an ornamental due to the dense foliage with velvety, coppery-golden undersides and the tiny purplish-white, fragrant flowers that are visible prior to the fruiting of the tree.
  • Litchi Cultivation: Propagation: The most widely used method of litchi propagation is air layering, however litchis may also be propagated from seeds, grafting or cuttings. If propagating from seed, the seed must be maintained in moist sphagnum moss; otherwise the seed begins to shrivel within 24 hours and in 5 days is no longer capable of germinating. The seed must be sown horizontally at a depth of 1 to 2.5 cm in a well-drained sowing medium in a partly shaded, well irrigated location. The sowing medium should be either peat, or various mixtures of sand, peat, vermiculite, soil and compost. Germination should occur within 3 days. Thereafter, when the plant has reached a height of 10 to 15 cm. it should be transplanted into a bag. The plant should remain in the bag until a subsequent vegetative flush has occurred. Plants propagated from seeds do not reproduce the characteristics of the parent plant. Also, they are extremely slow to bear fruit. The purpose of propagation by grafting is to introduce one cultivar of litchi (the new cultivar) to a different cultivar (the existing tree). The new cultivar is usually from seed stock which is approximately 9 months old. The grafting may be done by any of the three traditional methods: the splice approach, the tongue approach or the inlay approach.
  • Local and Regional Fuel Prices:
  • Belize is also experiencing somewhat of a farm and ranch land ‘boom’: with a strong surge of prospective and actual buyers, both native Belizeans and foreigners. A new generation of Belizeans is awakening to local farming and agricultural valueadded opportunities. Tillable farmland tops the most sought after list, followed closely by raw land and small farms. Although European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved GMO crops, Poland joins 7 other EU countries (Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece and Bulgaria) all of which ban the cultivation of GMO crops. Poland’s Agriculture Ministry fears cross pollination with non-GMO crops and also fears the GMO pollen could contaminate honey. They report that “there are no scientific assessments confirming that GMO crops are safe for the environment and people”.
  • Ag Briefs
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

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#470964 - 08/25/13 11:46 AM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The August - September 2013 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online HERE

This Issue's Stories:

  • Opportunities and Global Perspective of Cacao for Belize: Cacao Field Day and Forum: The market for chocolate couldn’t be better. There is a worldwide deficit of 60,000 metric tons. Just at the time that production is decreasing in the two main exporter countries of Ghana and Brazil the demand is increasing by 3% per year, creating a wonderful market opportunity for Belize. This was the theme of the forum held in Toledo on June 12, 2013. The forum developed from an idea that the U.S. Ambassador, H.E. VinaiThummalapally, had when he visited Toledo cacao producers in February. Having heard about Belize’s excellent chocolate quality in places he’s visited and seeing the potential for the chocolate produced in Toledo he contacted Mr. Jose Alpuche, CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), and Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim, Country Director of InstitutoInteramericano de Cooperation para la Agricultura (IICA), and Mr. Anhil Sinha of Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), to sponsor the forum. In addition to the sponsoring organizations, the stakeholders included members of the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA), the Toledo Agriculture Development Association (TADA), cacao farmers and processors.
  • Good Pesticide Management Practices Execution Progress and Future Work: The Good Pesticides Management Practices – Farmer Recognition Initiative (GPMPFRI) commenced in November 2012 and is an interagency collaborative initiative undertaken to promote and recognize good pesticide management practices among volunteer farmers by bringing into focus the potential sources of agrochemical contamination for horticultural products from the field to consumers. The initiative is expected to improve the competitiveness of participating local farmers through a scheme that will award public recognition to those in compliance with the GPMPFRI’s requirements. Farmers’ compliance is monitored and recorded by way of a toolkit which was developed based on Global G.A.P. criteria. In addition to farm inspection and field sampling activities, the initiative also has a farmer assistance component whereby volunteer farmers are provided with basic information and training in pesticide management and application practices. Tangible support in the form of personal protective equipment, pesticide storage units, field guides and other tools to improve pesticide management practices on the farm also form part of assistance offered to volunteer farmers.
  • TO THE EDITOR: Good Morning Beth, I just wanted to say that I read every Belize paper every day and the Ag Report is the best of them all. Real stuff. Stuff that can help the country and our neighborhoods. NO POLITICS. Its manna from heaven. Thanks again. Marty Casado BelizeNews.com
  • Bill Lindo responds to Vernon's Response Issue 21 page 5: Dear Harry Vernon, I refer to your letter to the editor in issue # 21 in The Belize Ag Reporton my subject “Energetic Agriculture”. You stated that I lack understanding of the subjects chemistry and soil sciences. If you mean that as it relates today to the teaching in schools and universities, then you are correct. The schools teach a pseudoscience in obedience to the corporate masters. God made the universe and nature is a product of God’s action. As human beings we have a job to try and understand how nature works and discover its laws. In trying to understand God’s nature, we can never look at it in a linear-entropic way. This foolishness that the whole is just the sum of the parts is wrong to physical reality. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. My friend, you lack understanding of nature because nature is not chemistry. Nature in regards to agriculture is made up of chemistry and biology -- physics is the bridge that joins them. You need to know all three and their relationship to each other.
  • What Has Professor Philip S. Callahan Done for Agriculture?: In issue # 21 of The Belize Ag Report I wrote that Prof Philip S. Callahan is the greatest scientist of the late twentieth century. Who is this 90 year old scientist and teacher? Prof. Callahan has written over 18 books and published over 180 technical papers in various journals. Agriculture practitioners should read and study his books: “Paramagnetism”, “Ancient Mysteries, Modern Visions”, and “The Soul of the Ghost Moth”. He got his Ph.D. at Kansas State in entomology (study of insects). He wrote that his assignment under Prof. Reginald Painter was “to find out why plants that grew on poor soil produced far more corn earworm moth eggs than those that grew on dark, well-aerated, bottomland soil”. In other words, why is it that crops which are grown on healthy soils never attract diseases and insects. He wrote that it took him 40 years to discover the answer and he also discovered how insects communicate. The results of his insect discovery caused a “fire-storm” in entomology. Many teachers were angry that he over-turned their “pet Theory of Olfaction”. But the United States government was very happy about his discoveries. While he taught at Louisiana State University, University of Georgia, and University of Florida (Gainesville), he also worked for both the Dept. of Agriculture (Southern Grain Insects Research Lab & USDA Insect Attractant and Behavior Lab) and the Defense Department for over 30 years.
  • Tally Me Bananas: Driving into my property the other day I was horrified to see how neglected my banana plants looked: overcrowded, with leaves dead and perhaps even diseased. Earlier on I had passed a newly erected sign just before Riversdale advertising Bunches of Fun Banana Tours 624 4297. Now there is a good idea. So I made an advance booking for a dozen ladies who were somewhat skeptical when I asked if they would like to accompany me. Our guide, Evin, was lively, charming and eager to tell us about the farm and the importance of the banana industry here in southern Belize. We were off to a great start with an informative video outlining banana history. Sagitun Farm is one of 24 farms in Belize owned by 9 farm owners all forming the Banana Growers Association supplying bananas to Fyffes. Although there are hundreds of varieties of the genus Musa, the Cavendish is THE banana of choice grown by the globes’ largest producers. Export bananas were once the variety Gros Michel or Big Mike but this was wiped out by Panama disease. The Cavendish is its replacement and it could be threatened by other possible diseases such as Black Sigatok, hence the need for strict handling and chemical control. We walked to the fields and were surrounded by large luscious plants. The banana is, in fact, not a tree but the world’s largest herb. If there was any dissent in my group to begin with it was soon replaced by smiles, keen interest and fascination.
  • Xate Survival Story: What is Xate? Xate (pronounced SHA-tay or sha-teh) are ornamental palm plants. Xate are three of the eleven palms that are part of the Chamaedorea species. Chamaedorea ernestiaugustii is the most familiar of the three. It is typically known by its common name, fishtail, cola de pescado, pata de vaca or rabbit ears. Chamaedorea oblongata common name is Jade, Xate macho or oblongata. Chamaedorea elegans common name is Elegans, Xate hembra or parlour palm. Xate palm leaves are green and smooth. Plants can grow to be seven feet tall, but generally fall over when they reach the height of an average man. Chamaedora palms grow from Mexico and Central America to Bolivia and Brazil. Xate varieties are most commonly found within Belize and Guatemala as they grow well in the shade and favorable climate of the neo-tropical rain forest. Birds and mammals of this region help to disperse and pollinate the seeds. Xate plants are harvested for their leaves, seeds and whole plants for the florist industry in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe.
  • Apple Trees of Belize Featuring the Mammee Apple: Mammee apples are not botanically apples, but have a similarity to apples and are recognized and known as apples in Belize and the other tropical countries where they are grown and enjoyed. Mammee apple, Mammea americana, also known as mammey apple, mamey apple, coco apple, Saint Domingo apricot, mamey amarillo, South American apricot, abrico and several other names native to the tropical country of origin, produce fruits, which, despite their resemblance to apples, are botanically considered to be berries. Mammee fruits are grown from an attractive evergreen tree of the Garcinia family (Clusiaceae) which resembles a magnolia tree. Mammee apples are commonly confused with Mamey Sapote (Pouteria sapota) of the Sapotaceae family but are unrelated. Mammee apples are a tropical fruit related to the mangosteen.
  • 30 Years of Growth and Firsts For Cayo’s Running W Meats: Worldwide it is not uncommon for people to consider an imported item more valuable than a locally produced product. In Belize this has often seemed especially true. For a small and less developed country (LDC), as Caricom classifies us, we are accustomed to much importation. However, as one of only 2 Caricom net exporters of food, the game is changing; Belize is gaining a reputation not only in the numbers for exported food and commodities but also in the high quality of our products, especially in the agriculture/food arena. Running W’s manager, Abdala Bedran, was chosen as one of the main speakers at the 2012 International Brahman Congress, held in Panama, in recognition of not only their excellent products but for Running W’s exceptional forward thinking sustainable management at Cayo District’s Running W Farm. Running W is a family based business. The late Mr. Escandar Bedran and his wife, the late Mrs. Paulita Bedran, parents of 7, instilled a strong worth ethic in their children. Mr. Bedran was successful in many varied businesses and had an affinity and talent for purchasing land; Mrs. Bedran, a popular civic minded woman and exceptional mother, instilled a strong respect for education in her children and grandchildren. Wanting to maintain a strong and close family, Mr. Bedran always encouraged and facilitated, when possible, businesses which would maintain his family together in Belize.
  • FACING THE GIANT: AVIAN INFLUENZA IN MEXICO: The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) 2012 and 2013 outbreaks in Mexico have always been worrisome to Belize but now, almost a year later, with the disease now in five Mexican states Belize faces a formidable giant. The outbreak first started in Jalisco in June 2012 and, by November, Mexican authorities considered it eradicated. However, there was a loss of some 22 million birds due to the disease or control measures and some 166 million doses of vaccine were applied. But it re-surfaced at the start of 2013 with a vengeance spreading to nearby states and resulted in 12 states vaccinating against HPAI, 9 of these states being unaffected states. This giant with the outbreak now being reported in Puebla, Mexico has its sword drawn against Belize, Guatemala and the Yucatan peninsula. As in biblical times when David faced Goliath, Belize now needs to face the threat of HPAI from Mexico. This giant is a threat to Belize’s food security, economy, poultry industry and animal health. Public health is not under any threat as the disease is primarily a bird disease. Belize’s response is a coordinated response with the lead being taken by BAHA and the Belize Poultry Association (BPA). Regular meetings of poultry committees (poultry advisory committee, poultry health committee) are held to update on the evolution of the disease as well as to harmonise preparation and prevention measures. While BAHA is strengthening its veterinary services for early detection and prompt response, the BPA is ensuring that its producers are aware of the threat and step up biosecurity measures.
  • BEL-CAR UPDATES: These are Bel-Car’s main products, by percentage (dollars, not volume) with note of direction from previous year. BLACK EYE PEAS: down, approx. 10% RK BEANS: level, 25% CORN: up, 64% SORGHUM: slowly up, less than 1% BLACK EYE PEAS: Production this past year is still low, and is expected to remain low again next year, due to prices returning to $0.65-0.70/lb, down from the unrealistic $1.00 to 1.10 of last year. Bel-Car management travels extensively, analyzing global factors, increasing their marketing success. Trips to the Middle East increased understanding of the short but premium market for black eyes for the Ramadan holidays. Europe has also purchased some Bel-Car black eyes this season and discussions are under way with southern US growers, who may need to import to meet their regular customer demands. RKs: Bel-Car is still buying at $1.60, although international prices are cheaper; Bel-Car will need to reduce prices or stop selling. After a time of world scarcity of RKs, the USA and Argentina raised their production levels, which lowered world prices. Buyers such as Trinidad are already buying out of the region, paying the heavy 40% Common External Tarriff (CET). Presently slightly more RKs are inventoried in country than will be consumed locally, so prices must decline. Higher local consumption will likely follow, and more beans in local rice and beans.
  • Cattle Sweep in Spanish Lookout Finally Begins: The Belize cattle sweep, which began in the Northern Mennonite community of Blue Creek in November of 2012, finally arrived in Cayo’s Spanish Lookout. 400 head of cattle were tested on Monday, June 17th, with a follow up reading of results on Thursday, 20th June. Two visits with each animal are required to complete the service. On the first day the cattle have blood drawn for bovine brucellosis and are given a bovine TB (tuberculosis) test under the tail. Blood samples are sent to the lab, but the TB tests require the cattle to be individually handled again precisely 3 days later, to manually read those results. For the completion of testing for the approximately 14,000 to 15,000 head within the community, the national committee projects a 4 week timeline.
  • All Ranchers May Choose Eartag Type: Computer Readable or Not: There seems to be much confusion within the various Mennonite communities concerning the ‘computer ID chips’ which are available, but are not required. The ‘computer chip’ tags are not connected to any satellite; they have no capacity to indicate where the animal is located. The tags only have an individual reference number, identifying each specific animal on a computer which must be on the ranch with the animal to enable reading it. Hence, if a group of cattle with the computer tags are moved through a gate, en masse, and the reader computer is there, it can ‘read’ all the individual numbers onto the computer immediately. With the non-computer tag, each one must be manually read by the handlers.
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$ :
  • Bird Watch - From my Perch How Technology Changed the Way We Watch Birds: Watching birds used to mean carrying a backpack filled with bird books and notebooks. Today a birder can carry his books, bird songs, and a notebook, all in one pocket-sized compact tool. Birders all over the world can enter their observations into a global database, for the benefit of birders everywhere. Launched in 2002, eBird.org provides data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution. In March of 2012, participants reported more than 3.1 million bird observations across North America. Belize has its own community of e-Birders, people who faithfully record their observations in the field or in their own backyard. As a result, there is already a wealth of information available online about your favorite bird species, where they are and when you might find them. The application, Bird Log CA (Central America) is a tool to use when you’re “on the go” or to keep track of the birds you see in your own backyard. It is a “real-time, online checklist program” that works on your smartphone or tablet, and with it you are able to make entries in the field. When you connect to the Internet, you can submit the data. Your observations then become part of a huge global database at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The information can be accessed at http://www.ebird.org. Go to http:// www.birdseyebirding.com/ or the iTunes App store to find the mobile applications.
  • GMOs – Brief History and Prospects for the Future: The month of May 2013 marks 30 years since scientists first published that they could place functional foreign genes into plant cells. This technology, known as GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, however, has been around for a bit longer, with the first GMO product, human insulin, released for marketing by Genentech as far back as 1982. The scientific breakthrough using genetic engineering in plants signaled an exciting phase in biotechnology, a phase heralding the ability to artificially insert desired traits and characteristics into plants used for food, fibre and fuel. In early 1992, analysts predicted that one of the first biotech crops, the Flavr Savr tomato, which was engineered by Campbell Soup Company to remain firm after ripening, would obtain regulatory approval and be the first success story of a GM crop on the market. Campbell believed that tomatoes that can ripen on the vine, obtain their full natural flavor while on the plant, and still make the trip to the supermarket and the dinner table, without getting mushy or rotten, would be a delight to producers and consumers alike. The anti-GMO campaign, led largely by organized organic farming groups in the US, launched a very effective campaign, leading to Campbell’s decision to withdraw the Flavr Savr tomato from the market.
  • Citrus Greening: Citrus greening, also known as huanglongbing disease or HLB, has been called the most serious pathogen ever to infect citrus. It has already killed millions of citrus trees in Florida and resulted in an economic loss totaling 4.5 billion dollars and 8,000 jobs. The disease causes fruit to drop prematurely and to grow misshapen and bitter, thereby making it unsuitable for either juice or the fresh market. Greening is a bacterial disease transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). It originated in China last century and found its way to Brazil, Mexico and Florida early this century. Most recently it has been identified in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, California, Arizona, Cuba and Belize. In areas where only isolated cases of the disease are present rigid quarantine measures have been implemented to prevent its spread. Such is not the case in Florida where the disease is now endemic in virtually all areas where citrus is planted. Growers are faced with a decision: to destroy all their trees and plant something else or try to manage through the disease.
  • USING A REFRACTOMETER: The ability to easily measure Brix in the field makes it possible to determine ideal harvesting times of fruit and vegetables so that products arrive at the consumers in a perfect state or are ideal for subsequent processing steps. A refractometer is an instrument for measuring Brix. An explanation of the background and importance of Brix in determining quality of produce can be found on page 10 in issue 17 of the Belize Ag Report, Aug/Sept 2012. Degrees Brix (symbol °Bx) is the sugar content of an aqueous solution. Specifically, one degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by weight (% w/w). For fruit juices, 1.0 degree Brix is denoted as 1.0% sugar by weight. This usually correlates well with perceived sweetness. If the solution contains dissolved solids other than pure sucrose, which can be the case in vegetables, then the °Bx only approximates the dissolved solid content.
  • Pig production Faculty of Science and Technology University of Belize Central Farm Campus: One of the key components of the livestock section at the University of Belize Central Farm Agriculture Department is the piggery unit which serves the following purposes: 1. Generate income for the institution’s development and sustainability, and 2. Serve as an instrument to expose and involve students in the day-to-day management and husbandry practices of a farrow-to-finish swine production unit. But the program is about to change in preparation for the offering of a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Agriculture in the near future. For this purpose, the following expansions are contemplated over the next three years. UBCF Expansion Program 1. Expansion of current operation to an 18 sow farrow-tofinish unit 2. Establishment of feed mill and feed mixing unit on campus 3. Construction of a finishing unit with a capacity to finish all piglets born in the facility 4. Improve and expand processing capacity of the school processing facility 5. Construction of a biogas facility to provide energy and organic fertilizer
  • Let’s Make an Agricultural Revolution, Belizean Style: This country has a big, ugly debt problem. Mostly it smolders; in 2012 it bubbled up, but one day it’s going to erupt in the form of a sharp currency devaluation and painful austerity measures that set the country’s economic and social development back generations, with all the human misery that that entails. Fortunately, we have the power to change the future through our economic choices and agriculture has a leading role to play. Belize imports more than its exports: the merchandise trade deficit rose by Bz$81.3m or 23.3% in 2012-13; the balance of payments current account deficit widened to 2.7% of GDP. The value of exports of goods produced in Belize (rather than re-exports) dropped by Bz$25.3m; imports for domestic consumption increased by Bz$162.8m. The fixed exchange rate is feeding our addiction to imports, but hamstrings export competitiveness. The trend is unsustainable and eventually the dollar peg will snap. But the problem is bigger than trade. We don’t save enough to generate funds for investment: the IDB Country Strategy for Belize talks about the high cost of domestic finance as a brake on growth and the need for foreign investment, including in agriculture. There is no stock exchange for companies to raise capital and the banks are ineffective in recycling savings to feed cash-hungry businesses. Governments periodically indulge in spending splurges, resulting in a precipitous public debt level of 78% of GDP. We borrow to cover current expenditure: the government had a Bz$17.3m deficit in 2012-13 and capital expenditure is dependent on handouts from foreign agencies.
  • UAVs: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Belize Usher in New Era of Precision Agriculture: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones, are already at work globally in agriculture for both small and large farmers. Belize is embracing the high tech aerial systems, with dealers in place for agricultural drones, creating new opportunities in the exciting realms of agriculture. Due to their efficiency compared to other systems of ag monitoring and applying crop treatments, UAV use is expected to expand drastically. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, (AUVSI) predicts the agricultural sector to comprise 90% of worldwide UAV use. Japan, South Korea and Australia have thousands of these already in agricultural use. The most experienced UAV makers at this time are from the Orient. UAVs fly in an ultra-efficient tight pattern of up one row, over and down the neighboring row, compared to turning necessary with a fixed-wing aircraft. They accomplish more tasks than traditional aircraft by not being limited by direct human visibility. UAVs can monitor crops for yield or health and can disperse applications of liquids, granules or coated grains. They can work as low as 12 INCHES above the plants, reducing application medium and minimizing unintended treatment of neighboring lands.
  • Cheesemaking at Western Dairies: What evolved into Western Dairies began with cheese making by the Abram J. Thiessen family in their home in Spanish Lookout; their private operation lasted about 8 months before it was decided by the leaders of the community to form WD. Now WD produces cheese in 9300 pound vats and forms it in 20 40-pound molds every processing cycle, during which only one type of cheese is made. Like the rest of WD, the process for cheddar and regular mozzarella cheese is mechanized; of the 106 employees only 3 people make all the cheese. All cheese starts with milk that is brought in daily. Before farmers started feeding their cattle hay during the hot, dry season milk production fluctuated by season. Now Western Dairies (WD) can expect about 430,000 pounds of milk per month (8.6 lbs. of milk = 1 gallon). Small farmers collect milk in 5 gallon containers but big farmers have much larger containers, some holding upwards to 1000 gallons, on their farms to collect milk. Every day WD sends out a technician to test milk for impurities, including water. Every container of milk is tested before it is brought into WD’s processing plant. WD sends a truck to collect milk from the large dairy farms.
  • NATIONAL AGRICULTURE & TRADE SHOW May 3rd – 5th, 2013: 2013 marked the sixty-fifth year of recognizing and celebrating Belize’s rich history and bright agricultural future. This year’s theme describes the mission of the fair, “Stimulating Prosperity in Agriculture and Food Production through Renewed Public and Private Partnership”. The newly renovated and updated fairground was bustling with over forty-two thousand visitors from across the country for a week-end total. The mission of the NATS show is to showcase and introduce new products made by Belizean farmers with the goal to educate, support and encourage improved agriculture practices in Belize, including cattle, shrimp, sugar, citrus, produce, coconuts, rice and many more crops. Awards were given to Farmers of the Year, Senior Farmer, Woman Farmer and Junior Farmer. Members of the Taiwan Technical Mission who are working with the Belizean Ag sector to help improve farming techniques and to promote diversity displayed their ag techniques and displayed fruit, rice and vegetable exhibits. Many Belizean-based new businesses were on hand to proudly promote their products, including WOW soy sauce, Northern Heat hot sauce, cassava products, jellies and jams, gluten “veg meats”, grain and fruit cereals and many other innovative products. It was a festive occasion and offered something for visitors of all ages, including a rodeo, two playgrounds, a carnival, live music, lots of great handmade Belizean food, crafts, farm products to see, taste, hear and enjoy.
  • Rice Seed Production Project Field Day: A rice field day was held on May 24th, 2013 at the Central Farm rice field. The event was organized by the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA). Invited guests attending were Hon. Hugo Patt, Minister of State in MNRA; Mr. Douglas Chang, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of China-Taiwan; Mr. Eugene Waight, Chief Agriculture Officer, MNRA; and Mr Fernando Yeng, Chief of TTM. A total of 91 guests attended including MNRA technical officers, representatives of collaborating institutions, farmers and students. At the end of the opening ceremonies the attendees accompanied Mr. Wayne Chen, Rice Specialist, TTM, and Ms. Ina Sanchez, MNRA officer to a field tour of the seed producing plots. The highlights of the field tour included:
  • Tilapia Hatchery Center Ground Breaking Ceremony: of the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM), former Chief Agriculture Officer, Eugene Waight, and others in the agriculture ministry, the project for establishing a tilapia hatchery was launched on July 17, 2013 on Baking Pot Road, Central Farm, Cayo. The project is a joint co-operation by the Government of Belize and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Funded by the International Cooperation and Development Fund of the Republic of China (Taiwan ICDF), the 5 year Aquaculture Project signed in February 2012 is estimated at BZ$5 million. It includes the construction of a tilapia hatchery building (which will also house a research facility), 18 earthen ponds, a reservoir, a sedimentation pond, 12 nursery tanks and 16 fry (young fish) concrete tanks. Ambassador of Taiwan to Belize, the Honorable David Wu, who gave an overview of the project at the ground-breaking ceremony, said that primary objectives are to (1) produce one million “all male” high quality tilapia fingerlings to assist the development of small-scale tilapia farming operations on Belize, (2) promote the use of modern tilapia culture technology to increase the annual tilapia production and gradually decrease the price of fingerling production (3) reduce the cost of commercial feed by 30 - 35% with the use of alternative feed and (4) supplement the meat protein intake to families in rural areas through improved tilapia production in the region.
  • Local and Regional Fuel Prices: Cayo, Belize Quintana Roo, Mexico Peten, Guatemala
  • Garden Tools: Back to Basics: The dry season is here and we home gardeners are waiting for the first rains to come down to kick start that backyard garden. In the mean time you can accumulate seeds, pick out an area in the backyard for your home garden and get your tools ready. While there are many single function trendy tools on the market that promise to make soil most manageable with the least effort, the basic multifunction tools are space saving and most practical for budget gardeners such as ourselves. After all, the purpose of home gardening is for higher output from low input. These eight tools are a great start for your home garden and are multifunctional, practical and space saving. Standard shovel or spade is the first on the list; these are used for digging up the softened earth and moving away extra materials, such as sand. When purchasing a spade or shovel choose a sturdy handle and comfortable grip. Shovels and spades with D-shaped handles make it easier to lift what you have dug or scooped. Look for a curved foot rest below the neck of the blade for easy insertion into the ground. Find an appropriate height and don’t be afraid to ask the store assistants to see all that they have. A slick metal surface allows material to slide off easily, so stay away from rusty blades even if it gets you a discount.
  • Ag Briefs
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

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#477508 - 11/15/13 11:40 AM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The November 2013 - January 2014 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online.
Click HERE to download the PDF

This Issue's Stories:

  • Belize’s ‘Green Coal’: The Multi-Purpose Cohune Nut: The cohune palm tree, Attalea cohune, familiar to Belizeans, produces a nut about 6 inches in diameter in huge heavy clusters, weighing about 100 pounds. One tree can have several of these clusters. The nuts have been used by the Mayas, and in more modern times, by other Belizeans for fuel and oil. The kernels are 65 to 70 percent oil, but they amount to about 6% of total weight. The nuts are unusually hard and difficult to crack and their collection and transportation can also be difficult; so commercial oil recovery has been relatively undeveloped. Peter Singfield, who lives in Xaibe, Corozal District, developed an oil extraction system using a conventional oil expressor. First the nuts need be heat treated to loosen the meat from the shell or they are impossible to extract. Properly heated, the nut falls from the shell when the shell is “properly” split. Peter used to set them out in the hot sun on a black tarpaulin for four days or so, where the mid-day sun on a black surface reached temperatures 145° - 150°F. Others boil them for 30 minutes, while some people make fire pits and after the coals are sufficiently hot, put in the nuts and cover them with soil to process the next day.
  • Letter: Biologically Appropriate Technology or GMO: Biologically appropriate technology is designed to do no harm to the environment – the air, water and soil. It is working with nature, not against it. It is learning from and respecting nature. Having been an environmental journalist turned anti-nuclear/prorenewable energy activist, I am seeing similar patterns in the debate over GMO corn as existed in the nuclear debate. The parallels lie in how the public was sold on nuclear power back when there was concern that nuclear power might not be “ biologically appropriate technology.” Touted as being “safe, clean, and too cheap to meter” by the industries that financially benefited, nuclear energy turned out to be an expensive environmental nightmare, costing trillions, and many lives. Safely dealing with nuclear waste is still an unsolved problem; Fukushima is an ongoing out-of-control environmental disaster contaminating water daily with ionizing radiation that flows to the open sea. When there is controversy regarding a technology, it would seem best to stay on the side of caution. So, we ask ourselves, is genetically modified seed (ie: GMO corn, etc.) biologically appropriate technology? Those who gain the dollars from having mass control over the world’s food production view it as appropriate. Those who understand the Creator’s command to “respect all that I have created” do all they can to stop GMO corn from tainting the perfect food given to us by the Creator. Genetically modified corn is designed to cross pollinate and then take over a species of plants, not unlike an invasive.
  • Positive Changes In The Citrus Industry: The Belize Citrus Industry was started in 1913 and this year marks its 100th anniversary. Congratulations! The industry has grown to be of major economic importance in Belize. There are now about 45,000 acres of citrus groves and the industry represents 4% of GDP, accounts for 22% of major export earnings, and directly benefits 10,000 people and indirectly 50,000 people. The Belize Citrus Industry is facing many of the same challenges as other agricultural sectors including increased costs of fuel and fertilizers, global changes in trade with price fluctuations, natural disasters and climate change, and pests and diseases. The industry has survived many of these challenges. Today it faces an additional one: the devastating Citrus Greening Disease, also known as Huanglonbing (HLB). This disease is spread by an insect vector—the Asian Citrus Psyllid (Diaphorina citri). The disease is also spread from infected propagation materials in citrus nurseries. Greening was confirmed to be present in Belize in 2009. Since then it has spread to many groves, mainly in the Stann Creek District, and groves are declining, many trees have died and some groves have been totally removed. This past year witnessed a decline in fruit production up to 50% countrywide and Greening was a major factor.
  • The Soil & Agriculture: Agriculture as we know it has been with us for over eight thousand years. Science first became evident with the ancient Mayas, Peruvians, Persians, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians some two to three thousand years ago. These ancient peoples knew how to grow healthy crops with high yields and feed some 50,000 to 300,000 persons in cities with very good sanitation and running water. However, after the year 1,100 AD all this knowledge was lost to humanity because their civilizations collapsed. It was not until the middle to late 1800’s that Von Liebig and Julius Hansel both of Germany brought science back into agriculture with their works on soils. Then between the period 1930 to late 1950’s two Americans, Professor Emeritus Dr. William Albrecht and Dr. Carey Reams leapfrogged the knowledge of soil science. In the late 1920’s, early 1930’s, Dr. Albrecht and his colleagues made the very important discovery in soil science, the role of the clay fraction of soil in cation exchange capacity (CEC) you see on soil tests. His published work is collected in 8 volumes by the late Charles Walters of Acres USA. It still stands as the greatest work in agriculture, yet Dr. Albrecht’s name doesn’t even get a mention in modern soil science textbooks. The Belizean farmer must understand that his farm MUST have five essentials for good soil. All five are absolutely necessary. Nature is precise. First, the soil must contain energy. It takes energy to break-down limestone. A fertilizer’s job is to provide energy, but it is important not to use fertilizers that harm or kill the soil.
  • “Feed the Soil” Theme of 2013 Organic Fair: The old method of slash and burn for farming is being replaced with slash and mulch by the farmers in Toledo and Stann Creek who have seen the dramatic increase in corn crop yields in side-by-side field experiments. The results of the experiment reported at the 5th annual Organic Fair held in Punta Gorda on October 25 and 26 also included increases in organic matter, water retention and carbon content of the soil based on soil analysis before and after the experiment. The theme, Feed the Soil, was emphasized by every speaker at the event including Mr. Burton Caliz whose organic farm was toured by the attendees. In addition to mulching, the soil in southern Belize is being enriched by reforestation (223 acres), cover crops, and “alley” cropping (growing crops in between rows of trees e.g., Inga Edulis, Madre Cacao, and Leucaena, which are pruned regularly to allow exposure to sun). Mucuna beans are advocated as the primary cover crop, which can add as much as 30 tons per hectare of organic matter to the soil. Crop rotation, composting, and integrated pest control using organic ingredients and methods were also described.
  • BEYOND THE BACKYARD A Grain of Truth: We have become used to the labels fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, nut free; now gluten free seems to be the latest trend. On the one hand we realize that the food industry is a business; so selling the idea that you need or suffer from something is inevitable. On the other hand we must consider the fact that incorrect labeling or secret ingredients for some people can become a matter of life and death. At a recent cocktail party two people said they were allergic to shrimp, one to oysters, two to nuts, one is lactose intolerant, one to the polymers of surgical gloves and four out of the ten were on gluten free diets. One may have celiac disease and the others were advised to try avoiding gluten the sticky protein found in wheat, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, malt and rye. They reported that they felt so much better in many ways, regained a waistline, thought more clearly and eliminated joint pain. Other gluten related conditions such as gluten ataxia can affect the brain and create neurological problems. A gluten free diet has been found to be useful in the treatment of autistic children. Even products such as shampoo and body wash can contain wheat germ, barley or rye and since the skin is the largest organ of the body it could be adversely affected. Surprisingly cigarettes may also contain gluten either from plant contamination or from the wheat processing of the papers.
  • Agro-Processing Project Review: Agro-Processing, one of the four core projects of the Technical Mission of The Republic of China (ROC) (Taiwan), begun in 1999, held its annual meeting on September 6, 2013 at the pavilion of the National Ag and Trade Show (NATS) grounds in Belmopan. The project, which is funded by the International Cooperation and Development Fund of the ROC (Taiwan ICDF), is headed by Mr. Carson Huang, who recounted project activities including (1) making almost 800,000 dried fruit snack packs (from over 400 tons of rejected export fruits: pineapple, banana, and papaya) that supported the school lunch program in Belize 2006 to 2010, (2) organizing and training over 21 groups (over 600 women) that have been formed throughout the country over the last 7 years, (3) developing training for vocational schools, called TVETs, (food science lectures and practice courses) for over 420 students in 5 districts: Cayo, Orange Walk, Corozal, Toledo and Stann Creek, and (4) initiating and technically supporting products, some of which were on display at the meeting: potato flour, crystallized ginger, pineapple yogurt jam, dehydrated mango, and the very successful soy sauce which is produced by the women’s groups in Orange Walk and Corozal. The coconut and mango popsicles served for a snack to the attendees were really appreciated on the hot day. In addition, sweet potato rolls, made by one of the groups, complemented the traditional Belizean lunch.
  • Soil Structure, Strength and Consistency: The major objective in preparing the soil for the cultivation of any crop is having good soil preparation as the medium for plant growth. We can have good soil and make it poor as well as poor soil and make it good. Aside from the fertility which is a measure of the chemical nutrients, we need to create favourable physical conditions for the plants. These conditions are consistency, soil strength and soil structure. These three characteristics of good soils allow the presence and movement of air and water in the soil as well as provide sites for storage/release of nutrients for the plants. Good soil structure creates a good environment for the holding of water and air in the soil. Ploughing, harrowing and other forms of tillage are merely the mechanical means for the creation of these favourable soil conditions. We refer to the chemical or mineral makeup of the soil as the consistency or soil texture, that is, the amount of sand, silt and clay that are the inorganic constituents. Soil texture is the commonly associated term for the ‘feel’ and includes soil properties such as friability, plasticity, stickiness and resistance to compression and shear.
  • Thiessen Liquid Fertilizer’s Rice Trials: Rice production is expanding in greater Spanish Lookout and Cayo District, with almost 4,000 acres currently under cultivation by the Mennonites. Thiessen Liquid Fertilizer ran trials comparing rice qualities, costs and yields between crops grown with their liquid product versus those receiving traditional dry fertilizers. 6.6 acres received dry and 8.9 acres received Thiessen Liquid. As shown in the chart below the rice receiving Thiessen Liquid did better in 3 ways: 1. There were more pounds per bushel. (Corn is measured in 56lb bushels; soy in 60 lb bushels; and rice bushels are measured by volume not pound.) The rice which received the dry gave 36.3 lbs/bushel, whereas the rice which received the liquid gave 38.1 lbs/bushel. The increase in weight indicates a heavier, higher quality grain. 2. The moisture content of the dry was 24.8%, whereas the moisture content of the liquid was only 21.3%: another win for Liquid. 3. The fertilizer cost was also a winner for Liquid, with dry at $310.41/ac and Liquid at $289.15/ac. Dry pound yield per acre was 3,325 for the dry fertilizer and 3,251 for the liquid fertilizer. Nevertheless, Liquid’s heavier grain yielding the heavier bushels, with less moisture and lower fertilizer cost was still the winner. Belize Ag’s Issue 24 (due Feb 2014) will have a more detailed report on the rice industry in Western Belize.
  • BEL-CAR UPDATES Lower Prices but Record 1.3M Cwt. Corn Harvest for Greater Spanish Lookout/Banana Bank Farms: CORN: Cayo’s corn harvest for 2013 broke all previous records, with approximately 1.3 M Cwt. (1.3 million 100 lb sacks) harvested from combined acreages of Spanish Lookout’s Mennonite farmers and Banana Bank. Shortly after farmers harvested the final acreages from the approximately 30,000 acres, rains pelted the area flooding bridges and closing roads. The corn this year had been a little later than normal by about 1-2 weeks, due to later planting than usual (weather related). Some expressed surprise and relief that the quality had not been more affected, due to unusual weather, for example, rains coming prior to harvesting at the end of September. The yields per acre are slowly climbing up in Spanish Lookout; the exact tallies of acres and lbs/acre were not ready at press time and will be in issue 24 of The Belize Ag Report. Bel-Car estimates the average yield per acre at about 4,000 lbs/acre. Some better hybrids will be over that. Yields used to average 3,500 lbs/ac.
  • : BEANS: Red Kidney (RK) beans will be planted toward the end of November with Black Eyes more toward December, as it is more critical that the Black Eyes do not get rain during the last weeks. There may be a slight increase in planting RK’s and less Black Eyes, because the Black Eyes had a slower selling season. However, Bel-Car believes that a continuation of the current planting ratios would be good, as sales go in waves and what was slower one year may be in more demand the next. Find local and some international commodity prices on our Agriculture Prices at a Glance section, page 15.
  • International Promotion of Agricultural SME’s: Small and medium enterprises (SME’s) are to receive government assistance in the export of their products in accordance with the policy passed in 2013. The workshop on the international promotion of agricultural SME’s, held at the George Price Center on October 22 and 23, brought together the stakeholders to report on and discuss the opportunities, successes, and challenges of agricultural exportation. For an inside venue there was an enormous amount of planting those two days: seeds of marketing and business ideas that could germinate and benefit Belizean micro, small and medium ag enterprises. Small enterprises are defined internationally as those having 10 – 49 employees, US$1oo,000 – 3$M in assets and US$100,000 - $3M in sales. Medium enterprises have 50 – 250 employees, US$3M - $15M in assets and US$3M - $15M in sales. Although 95% of all enterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean are SME’s, most of the farmers in Belize are classified as micro with less than 10 employees and are not linked to the export market.
  • Bird Watch – From My Perch: Migratory birds are arriving daily from the North. You can use e-Bird (Bird Log) to enter the birds you see. This information is uploaded to the Cornell University Ornithology Lab. The data becomes available to birders all around the globe. With more and more people using this global database, scientists are learning more about migratory patterns and about the abundance or decline of individual species. There is a “world” version as well as a “Central America” version, BirdLog CA. You don’t need both; if you are a world traveler, choose the world version; otherwise, the Central America version is fine. If you are curious about when the warblers arrive, there is a terrific companion app called BirdsEye CA. There you can browse birds, look up a particular specie and learn quite a bit about it. You can also select the pin icon for a look at all the recent sightings and their locations. There is a link to “notable sightings” on the home page where you will find unusual or rare species. You will be able to see when and where they were seen. Once you have signed in to BirdsEye CA with the same user name you use for Bird Log CA, you will be able to also see your own lists and even find out how you stand among the top 100 Birders of Belize. iBird Pro is a superior application for studying birds, listening to their songs, looking at photos, range maps and getting good descriptions.
  • The Development of Corn: Scientists have been tinkering with the DNA of plants since the dawn of agriculture. The wild ancestor of corn for example is a grass called teosinte. Teosinte doesn’t look much like corn, especially when you compare its kernels to those of corn, but at the genetic or DNA level, the two are surprisingly alike. They have the same number of chromosomes and a remarkably similar arrangement of genes. In fact, teosinte can cross-breed with modern corn varieties to form corn-teosinte hybrids that can go on to reproduce naturally. At the dawn of agriculture some 10,000 years ago, ancient farmers in what is now Mexico took the first steps in domesticating corn when they simply chose which kernels (seeds) to plant. These farmers noticed that not all plants were the same; some plants grew larger than others, or some tasted better or were easier to grind. The farmers saved seeds from the plants they liked and planted them for the next season’s harvest. This process is known as selective breeding or artificial selection. Corn cobs became larger over time, with more rows of seeds, eventually taking on the form of modern corn. By selectively breeding plants, our predecessors transformed a scraggly and inedible grass called teosinte to the large, plump, colorful and nutrient rich corn plant.
  • Profitable ‘Green’ Intensive Commercial Farming is the Future: Wish to silence environmental critics lambasting the foul of commercial farming and still remain profitable? Looking to contribute to increasing global demand for food while protecting land, water and biodiversity? Environmental gains alongside intensive productive and profitable agriculture is not only possible but the future method of farming if we are to double global food production by 2050 while protecting land, water resources, soils and biodiversity for future generations of farmers. Known as Sustainable Intensive Agriculture, this farm of the 21st century has been implemented and documented for productivity and profitability in Europe and parts of Asia for several decades. Field margins are the strips of land between the field boundary and the crop, field corners and buffer zones. Research has shown that careful management of uncropped field margins not only contributes to water protection and increased biodiversity, but can also raise the crop profit margin.
  • Competency Based Education Training (CBET) at Central farm.: Competency based education and training (CBET) is being emphasized in the agricultural sector of Belize. CBET provides learners with the skills needed to perform well in their given industry. Learners need to know what is expected of them, employers need to know what skills their employees have, and instructors need to plan their courses and lessons so as to include these skills. Facilitators from Canada, Pat Bidart (Bow Valley College, Calgary, AB) and Angela Wilm (Lakeland College, Vermilion, AB) spent two weeks working with teachers and instructors at Central Farm, University of Belize. The facilitators provided sessions on active learning strategies to assist instructors in moving at times from a lecture format to an interactive applied format in teaching. The facilitators were very pleased with the passion and energy of the 27 trainers who completed the course.
  • Homemade Health Coconut Oil: If I could choose only one thing to keep in my medicine chest, it would be virgin cold-pressed coconut oil. This one substance is a superfood, providing health benefits in addition to supplying important nutrients, including some also found in breast milk. It is also a medicine; it fights bacteria and viruses and fungus. It can be used all over the body, inside and out. It can be used to treat insect bites, rashes, burns and wounds. Used internally, it boosts metabolism and shifts energy levels into high gear. Unlike caffeine, the effects are gradual but not addictive. What makes coconut oil so special? The difference is in the fat molecules that make up the oil. All fats and oils are composed of fat molecules known as fatty acids. Most of us are familiar with one way of classifying fatty acids, based on saturation: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Another way to classify fatty acids is based on the size of the molecule, the length of the carbon chain within the fatty acid. There are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and longchain fatty acids (LCFAs). Most of the fats in our diet are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs). Corn oil, olive oil, canola oil, lard, soybean oil, and chicken fat are composed entirely of LCFAs.
  • PANELA - EVAPORATED CANE JUICE (That Healthy Molasses Fudge): India leads the world in panela production and it is known there as gur. In Colombia it’s called panela, as in most of Latin America with exceptions of Brazil where it is called rapadura, chancaca in the Andes, papelón in Venezuala and piloncillo* in Mexico. Colombia is 2nd in world production and first in consumption with a whopping average of 31.2 kg/year per capita. Making panela is Colombia’s 2nd leading rural vocation (after coffee cultivation). Panela’s precursor, fresh cane juice, is making its mark in trendy North American ‘raw cane juice bars’, and we expect savvy Belizean establishments to be serving it as well. Sugar cane is believed to have originated in New Guinea where it has been cultivated since 6000 BC. This member of the grass family produces about 70% of the world’s sugar. It likes the humid tropics but tolerates some sub-tropical areas. Sugar cane produces more calories per acre than any other crop. Panela is a value-added sugar cane product. Sugar cane, Sacharum officinarum, was and is designated as a medicinal plant. When you see ‘officinalis’ (or any of its declined forms) used as the species name in the Linneal binomial system of plant taxonomy, that indicates that it’s one of over 60 plants designated this way as medicinal.
  • Mamey Sapote: This is the last apple in the ‘Apples of Belize’ series. Although none of the apples in the series (custard apple, star apple, mamey apple, sugar apple, wax apple or bell fruit, velvet apple) are botanically classified as apples, they are all widely recognized as, and called apples. (As they do not look like apples, or grow on trees, pineapples are not part of the ‘apple’ series). The Mamey sapote (Pouteriasapota), is a member of the Sapotaceae family. Mamey is also spelled Mammee, Mammey, Mammy or called Mamey Apple and is also known as Zapote Colorado in Spanish. The Mamey sapote is a fruit-bearing tree which is native to Mexico and Central America. The long fascinating history of Mamey sapote dates back at least to the early Aztec and Mayan days. Fruits were recorded as growing in Panama in 1514. It has been documented that Mamey sapote fruits helped to keep Hernan Cortez and his army alive on their famous seven hundred mile expedition from Mexico City to Honduras in 1519 that caused the fall of the Aztec empire. Mamey sapote is the national fruit tree of Cuba and has grown in popularity in Central America, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, southern Florida and Australia.
  • Guidelines for Farming Watch the Moon Phase: Belize farmers are captivated by gardening by the phases of the moon. Since prehistoric times farmers have discovered that various plants do best when planted and harvested at certain phases of the moon. Before planting or harvesting follow the rules of thumb: 1. Crops that produce their yield above ground should be planted during the waxing moon (new to full). The first week is especially good for crops that have their seeds on the outside, and the second week (between the first quarter and the full moon) is the best time to plant crops that produce seeds on the inside. 2. During the waning moon (full to new moon) is the time to plant root crops. No planting is to be done on the day of the new or full moon. 3. Fruits harvested during the full moon phase tend to weigh more and get a higher price in the market.
  • The Pesticides Control Board of Belize celebrates its 25th anniversary: The Pesticides Control Act (PCA) for the regulation of pesticides in Belize came into effect in December 1988, bringing into existence the Pesticides Control Board (PCB), a statutory body mandated with the implementation of the provisions of the PCA. The PCB Secretariat is excited to announce its plans to mark this important 25 year milestone at an event scheduled to be held in November 2013. The event will have the participation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, and other stakeholders. There will be a panel presentation and discussion titled “Sustainable Agriculture and Pesticides: Regulation and Responsibility” and an expo featuring technological innovations in pest management and outreach programs that support sustainable agriculture.
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$: Find local and some international commodity prices on our Agriculture Prices at a Glance section.
  • Ag Briefs
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

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#485918 - 02/14/14 09:29 PM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The February 2014 - April 2014 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online.
Click HERE to download the PDF

This Issue's Stories:

  • Issues, Challenges and Options for Belize’s Agricultural Sector: Agriculture plays an important role in Belize’s economy, contributing almost 14% to GDP, about 50% to export earnings and provides a significant base for employment and income generation in the rural areas. In the last decade (2003 – 2012), the growth of the agricultural sector averaged over 4% per year but there was negative growth in five years during the decade. In 2012, both the economy and the agricultural sector recovered significantly, expanding by more than 5% and 15% respectively. A review of policies and strategies and the many studies done on Belize’s agriculture during the last 25 years indicate that there is no shortage of recommendations on what needs to be done to facilitate the long term growth of the sector. The first comprehensive policy document for agriculture was prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1986. This was followed by three other initiatives in the last 15 years to provide a policy and strategic direction for the sector. Previous Challenges and Recommendations Since the early 1990s, recommendations on policy options and a strategic direction for the sector emphasized five major areas: (1) a market-led approach; (2) the need to make the sector more competitive in both the domestic and export markets; (3) diversification; (4) incorporation of the issues of sustainability in agricultural production, management and use of the environment and natural resource base; and (5) strengthening of inter-sectoral linkages.
  • TO THE EDITOR Response to Development of Corn, Issue 23 page 17: Dear Editor, In his article titled, “The Development of Corn”, Mr. O’Brien states, “In the field of agriculture, hybrid corn is one of the greatest marketing success stories of all time.” I agree with this statement and I think that if he were still alive, the late soil scientist, William Albrecht, Ph.D, would also agree with this statement. In studying Albrecht’s papers, however, the reader would find that Albrecht explained how simply measuring yield does not take into account the nutritional value of the crop. In Volume II of his papers, Chapter 4, “THE LOW QUALITY AS NUTRITION AND HIGH YIELD OF BULK DEMONSTRATE THEIR MATHEMATICALLY CLOSE RELATION”, Albrecht reports that this mathematical relationship was worked out by O. W. Wilcox and published in June, 1956 as an article titled, Inverse Yield—Nitrogen Law of Nature. This relationship ties increasing yield per acre of dry matter to the production of more carbohydrates but less protein. Albrecht explains that the introduction of hybrid corn is an example. The increased yield of hybrid corn reduced the protein content while the starch and fodder yields have increased. Albrecht concludes, “By this manipulation, we have pushed this crop’s production of protein nearly down and out for growing young animals.”
  • Fertilizers: What & How They Work By Bill Lindo: Most everyone thinks of fertilizers as some chemicals made in a factory and used by farmers and gardeners to feed plants and crops. This is what we call a half-truth. There are many kinds of fertilizers and their use is varied. Some are natural, meaning we mined them from nature and use them as such, or mankind, using different manufacturing processes, refines and concentrates the natural, mined fertilizer into a product with more value added. The by-products of humans and animals as well as plants are also used as fertilizers by farmers, and have been used for over 10,000 years since the dawn of agriculture. In addition, there are slow-release fertilizers and instant – soluble —fertilizers. But, really, what is a fertilizer? It is a concentrated source of energy for plants. Plants grow by energy. They need water, carbon, air (nitrogen & oxygen), sunlight, good tilth soil, and energy to grow and feed humans and animals. Science (Dr. Maynard Murray) has shown that at least eighty or more of the elements in Mendeleev’s Periodic Table of elements are necessary for optimum human health. The farmer is a person who has knowledge of chemistry, biology, physics, mechanics, weather, computers, economics, and some business principles. The farmer knows that agriculture is the only thing on God’s earth that gives one something from almost nothing. He/she puts a bag of 60,000 corn seeds in the soil and 3 months later gets back some 16.5 million seeds – for every pound of corn seeds he/she gets some 275 pounds of seeds – the potential of corn (op) is some 500:1.
  • Milestone Project Handover TTM to MNRA Thank You, ROC Taiwan: After an impressive list of assistance to Belize, the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) signed over three important projects including the assets associated with them to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA). In his speech at the signing ceremony on November 27, 2013, the ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), H.E. David Wu, reported 472 families directly benefitted from TTM’s projects; 175 families assisted with training and loans; 24 farmers graduated in November, 2013 from their formal training in food safety and good pesticide use; 700 farmers trained in horticulture practices to improve quality and reduce costs produced over $1.3 million of vegetables and fruit; 517 women’s groups helped; and other noteworthy results of the efforts of TTM. According to MNRA statistician, Philip Tate, Belize used to import rice in 1987 but now, after 450 farmers received training in rice production Belize can supply the local market. The three projects that were signed over by written agreement are the Rice Seed Project (begun in 1991), the Horticulture Training and Demonstration Project (begun in 1992), and the Agro-Processing Project (begun in 1999). To assist MNRA personnel now in charge of continuing these projects, TTM also signed over all the assets, approximately BZ$790,000 worth of vehicles, farm equipment, food-processing equipment, buildings, and documentation such as training and operating manuals.
  • BEYOND THE BACKYARD: Just Kidding: “High on the hill was a lonely goat herd..” A very, happy, catchy song that got me wondering why we do not see more goats. It is claimed that goat is one of the most eaten meats in the world yet we hardly ever see one here, let alone find someone who has ever tasted it. We see a lot of those long legged unkempt Barbados black bellies roaming freely in villages and I believe some Dorper in Cayo. Those are sheep and come with a distinct indicator: the tail hangs down. Goats have a perky tail pointing up, unless sick or in distress. Most sheep have wooly fleece although some tropical breeds have hair not wool; goats have hairy coats. My friend was raising ADGA Nubian goats for milk production. One successful farmer suggests a cross of Boer and Kiko goats for making excellent meat and recommends goat rearing as a profitable business. Goat is a popular meat in other Caribbean locations and many may have sampled delicious Jamaican curried goat. Once only in ethnic markets, it has now found its way to menus with fancier cuisine carrying a label that sounds more palatable. So perhaps on your travels you have tried chevon, cabrito, or capretto and not pictured its curiously intelligent visage. My goat rearing friend says that they are very humanlike in their family rearing and behaviour. She found that sheep and goats do not communicate and stick to their own herds. They are a different species.
  • Pesticide Control Board (PCB) Celebrates 25th Anniversary: The impetus for the establishment of the PCB was the export of bananas as a result of an exportation act adopted by the government in 1985. Although 14 members were to comprise the board, it as not until 1988 that funding allowed the hiring of a staff for its administration. Annual funding of $500,000 is supplemented by license fees and a 2% importation fee of all pesticides. Licensing, which began in 1989, used to be by ingredient but by 1995, it was switched to brand. The board still has 14 members: 4 come from Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), Ministry of Health, Department of The Environment and Belize Agriculture and Health Authority (BAHA); 4 from large agro-producer/grower associations such as citrus (CGA), bananas (BGA), sugar cane (BSCFA), and vegetables; and 6 from other stakeholders: labour, Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI), Prossers, Brodies, and an independent member appointed by the minister of MNRA.
  • Addicted to Round Up: Globally, the use of pesticides and herbicides has become commonplace. Alarmingly, the usage is doubling every five years exponentially. In 1990, 35 million liters of pesticides were sprayed on fields in the US alone; this past year (2013) over 300 million liters were sprayed! In an article from the 5th October 2013 Amandala, “Trade Gap Expands”: “$1 of each $5 dollars of imports is attributed to consumer goods, the largest expense in this category being pesticides, medicines, cigarettes and vitamin supplements”. Chemicals are often applied by spray (e.g., from backpacks or airplanes), where aerosol can be dispersed by wind or overspray can runoff into aquatic ecosystems. Sprayed chemicals enter the transpiration cycle and are taken up high into the atmosphere into the clouds and may be carried long distances from the original point of spraying, later coming to earth in rainfall. The use of these chemicals and their overspray has given rise to a multitude of studies of the toxicological effects of pesticides on non-target species, as well as the impact of pesticide drift into freshwater ecosystems.
  • Sustainable Harvest International- Belize (SHIB) Agricultural Training in Toledo and South Stann Creek: After an extensive 5 year training program, 15 Toledo and Stann Creek farmers were awarded certificates of completion at the Organic Fair in Punta Gorda in October, 2013. Although the core training, based on principles of environment, agroecology, food sovereignty, improvement of livelihood and learning capacity, is the same, the farmers receive customized training based on their needs. For example, families have a work plan that focuses on the first two phases of work, with focus on family nutrition, sustainable and holistic farming (includes soil conservation, reduction or elimination of external inputs), diversification, improved ecosystems, and sustainable livelihoods. SHIB’s mission is to provide farming families in Belize with the training and tools to preserve our planet’s tropical forests while overcoming poverty. Here’s an interview with Yasmin Ramirez, SHIB Marketing Officer who explained the SHIB training program: 1. Who does the training? Training is done by SHIB field officers and Country Director. They are all Belizeans. The field officers hold associate degrees in natural resources management and have additional agronomy training received in Honduras and Nicaragua. All of them are registered organic inspectors. The country director is a renowned agronomist in Belize.
  • Spanish Lookout’s Expanding Rice Industry Belize Ag Report visits with Tropical Country Rice: Tropical Country Rice (TCR), the company behind the rice label of the same name, supplies about 40% of the domestic rice market. Their milling facility is based in Spanish Lookout, with rice fields located within that Mennonite farming community and other lands in Cayo District. Two other Mennonite communities, Blue Creek and Ship Yard, both in the Orange Walk District, grow and handle a bit more of the market share and the remainder of rice production is cultivated for most part by smaller farmers in Toledo District. Total domestic rice consumption in Belize is estimated to be approximately 1.8M lbs/month (21.6M lbs/ year). Overview About 4,500 acres of rice are grown by approximately 30 farmers who utilize TCR to mill and market their rice. Average yield varies between 3,500 to 5,000 lbs. per acre. That yield figure is for ‘paddy rice’ or un-milled rice. Paddy rice mills out from as low as 45% to as high as 70% in milled white rice, depending on the quality of the paddy rice. About 600 acres are flooded fields, and approximately 625 acres are irrigated by pivot (mobile pipe irrigation, see cover photo). Flooded fields give the highest yield but fields that are flooded can be used for only one crop per year. Under pivot, the same fields can grow rice in the summer and beans in the winter. Each pivot irrigation rig can service about 125 acres, and there are 5 of them currently in use for rice in Cayo.
  • A GOOD FUNGUS?: Many are familiar with the potato blights of Ireland and France that wiped out the potato harvests, rotting the tubers close to harvest, which changed the course of history drastically. PHTOPTHERA by name, which means PLANT DESTROYER, was the fungal villain causing those famines. Does a good fungus exist, one that can help plants? Yes, absolutely yes. In the news of late, we read of ‘good bacteria’ located in our stomachs and intestines, being responsible for people’s immune system – some credit up to 90% of our body’s ability to fight off diseases, being related to these gut bacteria. Similarly, we also read of plants’ abilities to fight off diseases, protected by elements in the soil. As with the bacteria – also not visible to the naked eye, both fungus and bacteria have been overlooked and misunderstood. Many notice during the hardest parts of the dry season here, along the edges of row crop fields, when the crops themselves might be wilted for lack of water, that the weeds along the edges appear to be green and vibrant, standing tall and strong. We wonder, ‘interesting these weeds don’t need as much water as those crops.’ In fact, those weeds often do need water but have access to water that the crops do not. How can that be? Think of snakes here in Belize: most of us know that the black snakes (colubridae) will fight off and actually eat baby fer-de-lance (tommy goffs) snakes. If one kills off the ‘good’ snakes, that might almost be an invitation to more venomous snakes, such as fer-de-lances, asking them to come move in. A similar situation exists with fungus.
  • Consortia - The Coming Secret for Success of Small Businesses in Belize: Many small business owners in Belize have become curious, having heard about the success of consortia in other countries. An export consortium is a voluntary alliance of businesses (or other) operating under an agreed set of rules, the first of which could be that members bring all their produce to the organization, a move intended to dissuade opportunistic behaviour. Notwithstanding, the main purpose for this kind of consortium is to promote and export goods and services into the foreign market. This umbrella group requires that members such as small farmers share the huge costs associated with marketing goods, while allowing them to keep their individual profits. As well, members find a consortium attractive because it does not require them to divulge company secrets to the group, such as negotiated prices and contract terms with their individual clients. Apparently, a number of small farmers have determined not to wait for the government to bell this cat. After all, the government of the day has already created the enabling environment and is doing a lot for businesses broadly through initiatives like Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE). Furthermore, consortia require a lot of attention and day to day management which BELTRAIDE, by design, may not be intended to provide. BELTRAIDE’s focus is probably more outward, bringing investment into the country. This creates business opportunity for a local agency to serve as a repository for consortia, helping businesses with common products form into groups and assisting them as they go through the stages (as the saying goes) of forming, storming, norming and performing.
  • Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) Holds 20th AGM: Cacao producers from 42 Villages in Toledo and Stann Creek Districts gathered on Saturday January 18th, 2013 for TCGA’s 20th AGM held at the Julian Cho Technical High School auditorium in Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District. From the Industry Report During 2013, production decreased by 53.5%, (2012 having been an all time high producing year for TCGA at over 54MT and 2013 production was 26MT. Multiple factors caused this decrease including cyclical production, farm rehabilitation, and the challenges of Moniliasis (fungal disease). Nevertheless TCGA remains very positive as they move toward sustainability and improved product quality and increased quantities. During 2013, 10 satellite drying facilities and 3 centralized fermenters were built and over 50 training sessions were held. About 300 acres of cacao were rehabilitated. Report was given on the Maya House of Cacao & Chocolate Museum, located at mile 18 on the San Antonio Rd. This is a joint project of TCGA and the European Union and should be open to the public before the end of 2014. Facilitating cacao field rehabilitation, Caribbean experts assisted in the training/ employment of 20-25 youths to use power tools which they used over 6 -9 months while rehabilitating approximately 200 acres of cacao.
  • GlutenFree – To Be or Not to Be?: For a long time I thought the gluten-free diet was just another fad or only for people with Celiac Disease. After I read a book called “Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health,” by William Davis, MD., I decided to drop wheat from my diet. The results are remarkable enough to share, so others can enjoy this simple trick for feeling better, enjoying decreased joint pain, increased energy, and yes, weight loss without much effort. The wheat we eat today is a far cry from the original product. “Einkorn wheat, ancestor of all modern wheat, harvested by hunter-gatherers in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago is a 14-chromosome wild grain. Emmer wheat, of Biblical times, bore 28 chromosomes. Modern wheat has 42 chromosomes and has been changed (hybridized, genetically modified) more times than any other grain. What other changes occurred deep within the gene structure of the plant? The truth is that little testing was done on the effects of these hybridized or modified plants on the human body. The testing that was done and modifications made were to increase yield and profits without concern for how it changed the nutritive value of the product. Have you ever wondered why there are so many more obese people today than there used to be? Why do so many more children have autism than they did 30 years ago? Why are so many suffering with joint paint and arthritis?
  • Belize Livestock Producers Association (BLPA) An Organization on the Way Up: After several years of semi-stagnation and lack of enthusiasm in the cattle industry, there is a revival taking place, thanks in no small part to the Cattle Sweep taking place within Belize. It is no coincidence that almost to the day when all the agreements were signed and it became clear that the much talked about and anticipated Cattle Sweep was actually going to happen, the price of Belizean cattle started to rise and rise quickly, from around 95c/lb. up to a high of around $2.15 in the middle of last year. Currently the price stands at around $1.85/lb. and will hopefully hit the same highs as last year depending on supply and demand throughout the course of the coming year. One thing is for certain: if we can keep the momentum going with the Cattle Sweep, complete this massive project and become certified free and clear for TB and brucellosis, we will not be visiting those dark old days of 95c/lb. again anytime soon. The sweep, as we write, has almost completed round 1 and has already started up north with the second sweep, the Blue Creek farmers blazing the trail and now patiently awaiting round 3! Once the few stragglers that are proving to be very elusive and difficult to catch and test are completed in the south, all the vet teams will be moving back up north to help out up there and things will again move forward at a reasonable pace. It looks as though the original estimates of around the 100,000 head of cattle in the country will be very close to the mark and it is expected that very close to that figure will have been tested by the time all is said and done. The few that are left are mainly because of logistical problems of actually catching these wild animals in the bush in certain areas, being unable to reach animals on the wrong side of flooded creeks and rivers and also due to several farmers actually hiding their animals to avoid taking part!
  • National Conference on Agro- Biotechnology and Biosafety in Belize: Mr Anil Sinha participated in the National Conference on Agro- Biotechnology and Biosafety which was held on 10 December 2013 at George Price Centre, Belmopan. It was organized with the support of IICA, FAO and CARDI. The objectives of the National Conference were (i) to provide scientific information on the topic of biotechnology and biosafety, and (ii) to support the interest of the Belizean government to develop a platform for discussion among the key stakeholders to develop and inform Belize’s strategy as it relates to biotechnology and biosafety. The conference was attended by a total of 83 participants from a wide cross section of agricultural stakeholders from the public and private sectors and international development agencies and civil society which included farmers, industry leaders and representatives of producer associations, concerned citizens, academia, government technicians and policy makers, the media among others. Dr Pedro Rocha, Coordinator, Area of Biotechnology and Biosafety, IICA, Costa Rica and Dr Juan Izquierdo Fernanadez, Consultant, FAO made key scientific presentations on the topics. Mr Francisco Gutierrez, Director of Plant Health, BAHA made presentation on “Drivers and lessons learnt in the development of the current National Biosafety Policy in Belize. Mr Hugh O’Brien, Representative, Grain Growers Association in Belize made presentation on the perspective of benefits of use of biotechnology in Belize while Mrs Miriam DeShield, Representative, Concerned Citizen made presentation on the perspective that some biotechnology in Belize is not beneficial.
  • Belize’s National Agriculture and Food Policy: In early December, 2013 major stakeholders came together at the George Price Center in Belmopan to provide input for the development of a national policy and strategy for creating an enabling business environment for agriculture. Sponsored by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture (MNRA), International Institute of Cooperation for Agriculture (IICA), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the attendees were divided into 5 groups to discuss the challenges and opportunities and provide recommendations for the national policy. The common themes that emerged were (1) the need for more information flow and dialog between farmers and government agencies to identify market niches, agricultural barriers to increased production, high quality products, and eco-friendly practices and (2) the effects of price controls and tariffs on agricultural production. Agriculture contributes approximately 11% to GDP and provides a base of employment and income for over 75% of the population of Belize. The MNRA recognizes the potential of the agriculture sector on the local, regional and global levels and is actively seeking to develop the means to assist farmers, cooperatives, and businesses to be proactive in achieving supply/demand successes.
  • Seed Toxins And The Purpose Of Life: The purpose of life for any organism, animal or vegetable, is to achieve immortality by producing offspring; that is, reproduction ensures the continuation of the species through the perpetuation of its genes. Natural selection determines that the more successful survival strategies result in gradual evolutionary development. For an animal, this might entail being the fastest runner, having the sharpest teeth or the most intelligence, all of which enable the creature to stay alive long enough to mate, hopefully repeatedly. But what does this mean for a plant that can’t run, fight or think its way out of danger? Plants have also evolved a range of self-defense strategies to increase the probability of reproduction. One of the most creative of these is to produce substances that are noxious to predators that might otherwise consume, digest and obliterate the all-important regenerative seed. These poisons or toxins, including fear-inducing ricin and cyanide, are present in some of our most common and seemingly innocuous human foodstuffs. Apple seeds, for example, as well as the pits of many other fruit contain the substance amygdalin. (You may recognize ‘amygdalin’ from the Greek for almond ‘amygdalē’, which also gives its name to the amygdala, the almond-shaped structure in the brain).
  • Home Production and Use of Cassava Flour: Much information is available on the cultivation of cassava, an important tropical staple food. This article will focus on a less-well-known and underexploited use for cassava; the versatile flour which can be made from this root crop. We have heard that there used to be a factory in Belize that produced cassava flour for sale. Families in Upper Barton Creek and daughter settlements have been producing cassava flour for home use for over 40 years. Drying cassava for flour takes effort, but it’s an enjoyable job the whole family can help with. It’s a good way to spend time together while producing a useful food! Cassava flour can be used successfully to make pancakes, muffins, cakes, cookies, corn bread and other quick-rise baked goods. Its by-product, cassava starch, also has many uses. To make cassava flour, we dry cassava in the dry season when we have dependably sunny weather. January and February are the best months. The mature cassava roots are first harvested and peeled. To make full use of a sunny day, this job can be done the day before and the peeled roots left overnight in tubs, completely covered with water. The next step is to shred or chop up the roots finely.
  • Mighty Moringa The Miracle ‘Tree Of Life’: This article is the first of a series on leguminous trees that grow in Belize. A leguminous tree is defined as a tree belonging to or relating to the Fabaceae family of flowering plants that bear pods. Botanist Linnaeus initially classified moringa as a leguminous tree and it has since been reclassified. Not until 2002 has moringa been properly confirmed the sole genus of the flowering Moringaceae of the thirteen species of moringa. It is being included in this series as moringa has similar properties to leguminous trees and is an amazing, highly nutritious, versatile tree. Moringa oleifora, also known as widow’s tree, drumstick tree, clarifier tree, benzoil tree, mother’s best friend or miracle tree, is native to northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains and parts of Africa and Asia. Moringa trees thrive and are now widely cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical climates around the world. Moringa was utilized by ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. Thanks to several horticulture projects during the past decade, including The Australian High Commission and Belize-Michigan Partners, moringa is becoming a common and popular tree in Belize. (see Belize Ag Report, July/ August 2009 issue p.17).
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#490899 - 05/15/14 12:21 PM Re: Belize Ag Report [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The May 2014 - June 2014 issue of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online.
Click HERE to download the PDF

This Issue's Stories:

  • Stubeef Jerky Returns To the Delight of Former Customers: Although still a young man, Stuart Doley has been making jerky for decades. Growing up in Virginia (USA), he made venison jerky from deer that he hunted. In university he continued refining his recipes and techniques making jerky in a small dehydrator for himself and friends. It is not surprising that soon after his arrival in Belize in 2010 he was at it again, turning local grassfed beef into beef jerky. Using Running W meats he tested the local market under the trade name STUBEEF JERKY. Just as his market here was taking off, Stuart detoured to Barcelona, Spain for an MBA degree. He and his Belizean fiancé returned to Cayo District early in 2013 to tie the knot and revive and expand STUBEEF JERKY. In fall of 2013 their Belize City processing facility, including equipment enabling production of up to 100 lbs. of jerky a week, opened for business. Meats destined for jerky must be lean; wild meats such as venison, known for its lack of marbling is ideal but is not sufficiently available locally. After trying several cuts of beef, testing for texture, tenderness, leanness and flavor, Stuart decided Running W’s fresh grass-fed round steak best fits his criteria. The steak is custom cut into pieces of 1/8th inch thickness across the grain and all excess fat is trimmed. Fats are not desirable in jerky, as they increase rancidity risk. Stuart’s secret blend of spices and seasonings are mixed with soy sauce, sugar, salt and sodium and placed into a vacuum tumbler. Only natural preservatives are used. 40 lbs. of the meat pieces are added to the mixture already inside the cylindrical stainless steel container. The top is sealed shut, the vacuum tube is attached and in just a few minutes the vacuum pump sucks all of the air out of the cylinder. The sealed cylinder is placed horizontally onto rollers which rotate the container on top of the machine. In 30 minutes all of the marinade is absorbed into the meat.
  • TO THE EDITOR: ORGANIC….What does that really mean? Having been involved in organic agriculture for many years, I believe that ‘organic’ is more than just agriculture; it is a commitment to a lifestyle. ‘Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food’, quoting Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, known as ‘the father of modern medicine’. Decades of research has established the definite link between illness and diet. The counter-culture of the ‘back to the land’ generation of the 1960s, turned into the organic agriculture industry of the 1970’s until our present day. But does eating only food grown without synthetic chemicals tell the whole story? Why does organic food cost more? Because it is more labor intensive. Is the extra cost worth the extra benefits? Are you in perfect health? Do you take any man made medicines? However, eating only organic food is not the entire answer to being healthful. We are subjected to chemical toxins in our bath soaps, toothpaste, shampoo, dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents, cleaning agents and cosmetics to name just a few.
  • It’s time to run the citrus industry as a business.: Ten years ago, when the Comonwealth Development Corporation handed over the citrus processing plants (Del Oro) to the Belize citrus industry, for $1, the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) was seen as a responsible conduit to handle the shares on behalf of Belizean citrus growers. Since then, the CGA has divested itself of 59% of those shares for various reasons. The rights or wrongs of these decisions can be argued from different points of view. The fact still remains that growers now own only 41% of the shares. It is time to remove totally these shares from the control of CGA and proportionally place them in individual growers names based on production. This will remove the ability of CGA to use these shares for some other scheme which will have no benefit to growers directly. Since the control of the processing has been in CGA hands, citrus production has declined dramatically to the lowest ever recorded last year, and growers delivering fruit have declined from approx. 1000 to 384 last year. Small growers production has declined from over one million boxes to less than half a million. So clearly, the ownership of the processing has not benefited growers in any way. As regards prices, we still receive less than half what USA growers receive, despite the fact that the processing factory invested four years ago in the equipment to produce consumer ready packs of fresh orange juice which sell for a much higher price and would have led to growers receiving almost double what the factory currently pays.
  • Roots and Shoots Mini Ag Fair in Consejo, Corozal: A small local garden club called Roots and Shoots is a special interest group with members from around the Corozal area. Most of our members have simple gardens, grow flowers, shrubs and fruit trees, and some have small vegetable gardens, and a few have small farms. The club meets every second Monday to discuss various topics of gardening in the tropics, listen to an invited speaker or member of the club or visit members’ gardens. Our club has had many field trips to Cayo, Toledo, Stan Creek and Orange Walk Districts visiting nurseries and farms. We’ve also attended The National Agriculture Fair in Belmopan and Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) Organic Fair in Punta Gorda. On 31 March 2014, Roots and Shoots held our very own 1st Annual Mini Ag Fair at the Consejo Shores Community Center, Corozal District, just 6 miles north of Corozal Town. It was a great success -- thanks to all the organizing and hard work of one of our leading members, Beverley Griffiths. We had a very large turnout of members and guests. We had a number of interesting presenters: John Masson, Pandora Canton and Nana Mensah with Yasmin Ramirez from SHI -- who traveled to be with us from as far away as Belize City and Punta Gorda.
  • Citrus Greening in Belize: Currently Belize has about 42,000 acres of land devoted to citrus groves. Over the last couple of years, Huang Long Bin (HLB) – yellow shoot disease or citrus greening - has caused several thousand acres of groves to be abandoned and now less than 400 citrus farmers are active. This is down from a high of about 1,000 + farmers a few years ago. According to the schoolmen, the disease is caused by a bacterium that inhabits the phloem (energy conducting tissues) of the tree and so far has affected all citrus varieties. The bacterium is transmitted by an insect pest called the Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorinacitri. No data exists to show that the disease is transmitted by tools, wind, rain, or human interaction. According to the experts no cure exists for the HLB disease and only two solutions can work. The first is to cut down all infected trees and burn everything, then plant new trees from greenhouses that were freed of the Asian citrus psyllid. It is very expensive at some Bz$ 3,500 per acre. The other alternative is to wait and pray that soon the results of genetic engineering of citrus trees will produce citrus trees that are resistant to the Asian citrus psyllid. A new twist being tried by the CGA is to release “beneficial’ insects in the groves to attack and destroy the Asian citrus psyllid. This new approach is to buy time so that in the next two-three years the growers can be able to import GMO citrus trees from Florida.
  • 2014 International Year of Family Farming Lots of Positive Change for the Future: The United Nations has designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming bringing attention to the importance of family farmers, including smallholder farmers, and their role in helping to nourish the world. The celebration is also aptly timed; it is reported that nearly 900 million people go to bed hungry every night and the global population is expected to reach more than nine billion people by the year 2050. The world will need to not only increase agricultural production, but to engage in agricultural practices that are more efficient and environmentally sustainable. Smallholder farmers are in a unique position to contribute to the global food supply, but empowering smallholder and family farmers is a vital step toward improving nutrition, increasing incomes, protecting and enhancing biodiversity, enhancing soil quality, conserving water, and mitigating and adapting to climate change. Equally important as the goal of feeding the world is the necessity of growing more nutrient-dense crops. All farmers can have a direct impact on nutrition through the crops that they choose to grow and consume, as well as through postharvest and preparation methodologies they use.
  • BEYOND THE BACK YARD: By Jenny Wildman “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside”: People ask me, “What is your favourite thing that grows in your garden?” Without hesitation I say, “Asparagus” which surprises them - that it actually grows here in the tropics. I walk out most mornings and check the patch in hopes of a few delicate shoots to eat, raw and delicious. For me this is the best way and feels very healthy as it is rich in all kinds of nutritious vitamins, A, C, E, B12 and K, plus minerals and antioxidants. It is low in calories with no fat, no cholesterol, and no sodium. First off I always consider what it can do for one’s health. It is a good source of fiber, a natural diuretic, improves mental ability, contains glutathione known to break down carcinogens and therefore fights and protects against cancer and aging. There are innumerable case studies on the benefits of asparagus. People have criticized its very pungent aroma and its effect on the body yet memorably some like Dr. Urbino in Marquez’ “Love in the Time of Cholera” welcome the effects on the urine which he insisted on spraying on his beloved garden. I have only a small patch so really never get to cooking bunches from the garden. I grew this from a crown given to me from a friend who successfully grows rows and rows in Corozal District. I probably broke all the planting rules but like me, the asparagus plant originates from a maritime location and loves sand, sea and salt -which could explain why the useless sandy nature of my land is blessed with my favourite vegetable.
  • Bananas in Danger: TR4 Panama Disease: The next time you bite into a banana, take a moment to savor the delicious treat. With its sweet, consistent taste and creamy texture, it is no wonder that bananas are the world’s most popular fruit. What most do not realize as they are peeling away its golden skin to devour the scrumptious pulp is that bananas are in danger. A serious fungal disease threatens to devastate the world-wide banana industry. The culprit: Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense, which causes Fusarium wilt or Panama disease, particularly Tropical Race 4. According to ProMusa, an organization dedicated to promoting banana industry news and science, the fungus survives in the soil and “enters the plant through the roots and colonizes the xylem vessels thereby blocking the flow of water and nutrients.” Once water flow is obstructed, the plant’s leaves wilt, its base splits open, and the plant later dies. This is not the first time banana producers have had to deal with Panama disease. Initial reports of the original fungus were noted in 1874 in Southeast Asia. The disease was identified and researched as it began taking a devastating toll on the Gros Michel banana, which was the common commercially-produced banana. By the 1890s, the disease had reached Central America and proceeded to spread, wiping out plantations.
  • TAMARIND: The tamarind tree is a leguminous tree (a tree which bears pods). Tamarind fruit in pods, or hulled is available in farmers’ markets around Belize from January – April. The tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica), a member of the Fabaceae family, is an evergreen tree which has become increasingly popular in Belize and Central America. Other names for the tamarind tree include: Indian date (tamar-hindi), or tamarindo. The origin of this leguminous tree is in East Africa, particularly in the Sudan where the tree grows wild. The fruit was well-known to the ancient Egyptians, and also to the Greeks as far back the fourth-century B.C. Its origin is also traced to India where is it well-known and prolifically cultivated. Taiwan, southern Asia, Oceana, China as well as most tropical countries world-wide produce tamarinds. Marco Polo introduced tamarinds to Europe in 1298. Tamarind trees were introduced in Mexico in the sixteenth century. Mexico presently cultivates over 10,000 acres of tamarinds. If you enjoy Worcestershire sauce or Marie Sharp’s Special Sauce, you may be surprised to know one of the main ingredients is tangy, sweet and sour tamarind syrup. Tamarind trees have many uses including: culinary, medicinal, carpentry, as a metal polish, as an ornamental shade tree, animal fodder, and as mulch. Tamarind trees are showy and elegant; they produce a magnificent canopy of year-round foliage. Trees can reach up to one hundred feet tall with graceful branches spreading over forty feet across. Some trees are known to survive and produce fruit for two hundred years!
  • World Market Prices for Citrus Growers: Last year, according to figures from Citrus Products of Belize, Ltd. (CPBL), 385 growers delivered fruit to the processing facility. Orange production was 4 M cxs from a claimed 30,000 acres with an average of 130 cxs per acre. The industry has never achieved an average of 400 cxs per acre. When we delivered 7 M cxs from 40,000 acres, 8 years ago, the average was 175 cxs per acre. Some few groves had production of 400 cxs per acre. It was never an industry wide figure, as low prices prevented growers from affording the necessary inputs. Even with the same inputs our harvest figures for Valencia are different depending on rootstock. Our 18 year old Valencia are on Sour Orange rootstock; the average production is 350 cxs per acre. Fifteen years ago we were advised by the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) that trees grafted on to Sour Orange would be dead in 5 years and that we should use Swingle rootstock instead. But our 15 year old Valencia on Swingle rootstock averages only 30 cxs per acre and are dying. There is never one simple cause to the problems in agriculture. The decline in citrus production over the past 5 years is a combination of the greening disease, faulty rootstocks and, particularly, low prices to growers. For years, Belizean citrus growers have been paid prices which are much lower than world market prices for citrus juices. The citrus processors in Belize have traditionally produced citrus concentrates, which sell for much lower prices on the world market than the ready-to-drink juices produced in consumer ready packs, such as the “Tetra Pak”. These types of packs have the advantage that they can be distributed and stored without the need for refrigeration.
  • Soil Conditioners: Previous articles in the Belize Ag Report have addressed the need for soil amendments which are those things added to soils to make up a deficiency or to improve the quality of soils. They include a wide range of organic and non-organic materials with different effects. This article deals with soil conditioners or beneficially changing the soil. A soil conditioner is a type of amendment that is added mostly to improve the soil’s physical qualities and thereby enhance the chemical properties, especially the ability to retain moisture and provide food for plants. Soil conditioners improve poor soils, rebuild damaged soils, and can be used to maintain soils in peak condition. Organic soil conditioners include plant and animal wastes –compost, biochar, bone, blood and fish meal, peat, coir (coconut husk), manure, straw, vermiculite, sulfur, lime, blood meal, compost tea, hydroabsorbent polymers and sphagnum moss and even some mineral fertilizers, such as ammonium sulphate, that leave acidic residues, or calcitic and magnesic fertilizers that leave basic residues. The possibility of using other materials to assume the role of composts and clays in improving the soil gave rise to the term, soil conditioning. Soil Structure. The most common use of soil conditioners is to improve looseness while having good soil structure. Depending on compaction, soils impede root growth and decrease the ability of plants to take up nutrients and water. Soil conditioners can add more airiness and improve texture ratios to keep the soil loose as well as reduce harmful chemical effects such as too high or too low pH.
  • BEL-CAR Updates: A good market for beans should continue in 2014. Beans were still being harvested in late April, finishing approximately 2 weeks later than normal due to the excessive rains which delayed planting time. The later beans, black eyes and RKs, have slightly better yields than the earlier beans. This yield variation may be due to the dryness at the critical podding time for the earlier beans, rather than rains. Sales this season for beans appear bright, as there is a world shortage of beans. The US Dry Bean Council is advising US farmers to plant 15-20% more beans; however the reality is that the US is projected to be planting less due to a seed shortage. There have even been inquiries from the US to Belize seeking to purchase RK seeds here. Similar seed shortages are reported in Central America but not in Belize. Here, generally farmers save their own RKs for planting the following season; however they are encouraged to purchase certified seed every 4 or 5 years. Due to the lateness of this year’s crop, Belize was forced to import one container (50,000 lbs.) of RKs in December. Jamaica was also totally out of RKs to start the new year, due to shipping problems. Beans were ready but ships were too full to take our beans there. After this was remedied, the pendulum swung to create a glut of beans in Jamaica. There is a chance to over-export beans this year with the world shortage, but BEL-CAR monitors carefully to avoid a local shortage. Corn is stable at present on the Chicago market, but is expected to climb as demand in the world is rising.
  • Bird Watch – From My Perch: By Marguerite Fly Bevis Endangered Species: Although Belize boasts at least 444 species of birds, the Scarlet Macaw (Aramacaocyanoptera) is one of the most beautiful and one of the most threatened birds in the jewel. Scarlet Macaws have survived the tragic flooding of their habitat by dams built in the mid 2000’s. In 1989 there were about 200 known Scarlet Macaws in the country. Today, there may be 200 to 250 birds. They remain at threat due to the incursion of poachers who steal chicks and cut down nesting trees. Scarlet Macaws are already extirpated in most of Central America. Funding is needed for patrolling, fuel, supplies for the conservation teams working in very remote locations within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Due to monitoring and protection efforts of the Friends for Conservation (FCN), the “Scarlet Six,”a group dedicated to protecting this important species, and individuals, Sharon Matola of the Belize Zoo, Dr Isabelle Paquet-Durand of the Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic, Charles Britt, Kristi Drexler, Roni Martinez and many others, poaching in recent years has dropped from 90% to 30% according to a monitoring team in 2013. U.S. citizens can make tax deductible donations to the Rainforest Rescue Foundation, specifying the funds to be allocated to the Belize Scarlet Macaw project.
  • Results Of The 2014 Fourth Annual Bird-A-Thon: The Bird-a-Thon is held annually with the goal of raising $15,000. Expect to see many more lodges and individual teams participating next year in March. You can help by sponsoring one of the teams or lodges, donating per species or per eagle, or just give anything you wish. Please feel free to contact me with birding news and conservation efforts
  • BLPA Works to Address Membership Needs: Following a successful AGM the end of February, BLPA has buckled down following through on ongoing projects and expanding into new areas. At the AGM, one new director was added, Mr. Albert Moore, of Cayo District. Officers for the new board will be reported in issue 26. Prices for finished steers/bulls and prices for breeding heifers continue their upward climb. (See pg. 14 for charts showing Belize cattle prices over the past 5 yrs.) The market outlook for cattle production in Belize continues to look very bright. The Cattle Sweep: The second round of the sweep is almost completed in the Northern Districts of Orange Walk and Corozal. Work in the central zone will begin on May 17th. Restructuring: BLPA is undergoing analysis to see how best to revise itself to better serve members. Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is assisting in that task, and sent Dr. Carlos Pomareda, an experienced livestock consultant and rancher himself, from Costa Rica to Belize.
  • Pesticides Control Board Pesticide Imports Statistics April 2014: The Pesticides Control Board over the past years has been gathering data on the importation of pesticides in Belize. Since 2006, the focus has been on having the database reflect the quantities imported expressed in kilograms of Active Ingredient (kg of A.I.). The following is a report on the pesticides imported into Belize between 2010 to 2013. Figure 1 shows the total amount of pesticide imported between 2010 to 2013. This includes the following pesticide classifications: domestic, agricultural, industrial and public health use. There was a slight increase between 2010 to 2013 from seven hundred and thirty metric tons to one thousand and ninety three metric tons of Active Ingredients.
  • HOMEMADE HEALTH FERMENTED FOOD: The frequent use of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps results in a depleted supply of “good bacteria”in our gut which we need to effectively get nutrients from our food. We hear about probiotics and buy expensive tablets to counteract the effects of taking antibiotics. A healthier approach is fermented food; it helps to restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gastrointestinal system while being tasty and interesting and full of nutrition. Fermentation helps pre-digest food before we consume it. Foods that are difficult to digest are more easily broken down after fermentation. In some cases micro-nutrients are synthesized during the fermentation process. For example, cabbage that has been fermented has known cancer fighting compounds. These foods are rich in enzymes which are needed to digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients in our food. They help us to absorb the nutrients we’re consuming. Lacto-fermented food is easy and inexpensive to prepare; foods like sauerkraut and pickled cucumbers provide the same benefits as purchased probiotics. Fermentation is a good way to preserve foods, increase nutritional value and improve taste without spending a lot of money. There was a workshop on fermenting foods at the Caves Branch Jungle Lodge in January 2014. Instructors were expert artisan cheese makers from Vermont, Larry & Linda Faillace, who also periodically teach courses in cheese making at Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.
  • Spanish Lookout Commercial /Industrial Expo 2014: Most of the steady stream of traffic heading for Spanish Lookout on February 28 and March 1 must have been going to the Expo held there. The park and huge covered pavilion were teeming with people. Friday’s crowd numbered 4,000, many of which were students; Saturday’s crowd was 11,000, greater than the previous Expo held in 2012. People came from all over the country to view the displays and products of the 100 exhibitors, enjoy the wonderful food and fun on buggy rides, boat rides, tractor rides, ATV rides, trampolines and in the bounce house. The agricultural and commercial exhibitors were from all over the country. A big livestock exhibition was planned but ended up very limited because the dates of the Expo coincided with the country-wide Cattle Sweep program, in which cattle were being examined and certified to be free of disease. If you haven’t attended Expo before, look forward to attending the next one in 2016.
  • Honey: Nutritional Facts and Medical Uses: Honey has been consumed by humans for over 10,000 years. It is the only food from insects that we eat. Honey is derived from the nectar of flowers, which is gathered by the female, or worker bee and stored in her honey sac for transportation to the hive. While obtaining the nectar, pollen from the flower is gathered on the two hind legs of the bee. During the course of the day, a bee may make as many as 25 trips gathering nectar and pollen, but will only visit one type of flower. This phenomenon is known as flower fidelity and is nature’s way of not confusing the pollination issue. Upon her returns to the hive, she is greeted by guards who identify her as a member of the colony and allow her entrance. She then passes her partially digested nectar to another worker or deposits the nectar in an empty cell in the wax foundation. The pollen is deposited in a cell and softened with water to a paste. This pollen paste, a source of protein, is used for rearing the brood. The complex sugar (sucrose) is converted to simpler sugars (glucose and fructose) to which are added enzymes. Water, which in the beginning stage of honey is the dominate component, is evaporated by the bees fanning the honey with their wings. Less water content allows the product to better resist spoiling. Good honey contains only about 18% water or less.
  • : Local and Regional Fuel Prices
  • Agriculture Prices at a Glance- $$$$$: Find local and some international commodity prices on our Agriculture Prices at a Glance section.
  • Ag Briefs: New Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, (IICA) Country Representative to Belize, The Chocolate Festival of Belize, Russia already has GMO labeling required for all foods with greater than 0.9% GMO, and other GMO-related news.
  • Letters To THE EDITOR

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