Belize: citrus prices up

There is no doubt that Belize has been lucky this year avoiding all the devastating hurricanes that raged around us. Now, in addition to that narrow escape we also find that our neighbours' misfortune is giving us an economic boost. I'm speaking of the citrus industry, where the continued effect of hurricanes--the latest being Wilma--has greatly damaged the Florida crop, thus driving up prices on the world market.

The hurricanes have also helped disperse the tree-killing canker around that state as well as greening disease. This will affect future productions levels in Florida and likely accelerate the conversion of many citrus groves near urban areas into residential subdivisions. The response in Belize has been for Citrus Products of Belize to substantially raise the estimated final prices for orange and grapefruit deliveries that have only just begun to flow into the two factories in the Stann Creek Valley.

The new prices announced this week are one point three-three-six-eight dollars per pound solid for orange, up from a dollar fifteen, and one point eight-five-seven-one dollars per pound solid for grapefruit, up from a dollar seventy-five.

These are the equivalent of seven dollars and forty-eight cents per box for oranges and seven oh-five for grapefruit. Although this year's estimated crop of six and a half to seven million boxes will fall short of last year's record seven point nine million, the higher prices should mean total revenues at least equal to last