REPORT #280 May 2000

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

The Milk and Dairy Association had got itself into too much debt. In an agreement with Cayo Tropical Fruits to assume the debt and provide a guaranteed market, the processing business will be absorbed by Cayo Tropical Fruits.

The problems are many facing a dairy industry in Belize. While $17 to $20 million imports of dairy products are coming into Belize, the industry within Belize is only able to produce $2 to $3 million locally.

For the viable processing of dairy products, it is a question of size. There is also a problem with high electricity rates, that effect mundane things like villagers not being able to run their refrigerators in whatever their local off season is, that cuts cash flows and requires the turning off of a refrigerator to conserve living costs. Many people in villages with electricity and refrigerators find that for most of the year, it is not possible to afford to keep the refrigerators running. $80 per month is average home cost to run a refrigerator in electricity. More villages than we can count, lack both electricity and telephones and running water and decent sanitation. The building of infra-structure has been sadly neglected nationwide over the last 30 years. More roads to deliver processed dairy products that usually require refrigeration is also a problem in a tropical climate. Cattle rustlers are also a plague. When they make a midnight raid and butcher a producing Holstein dairy cow worth a $100,000 to sell to town butchers as raw meat, worth only a few hundred dollars, it is a real financial setback to the dairy industry.

Despite the obstacles, the dairy industry is growing, be it ever so slowly.

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