Due to inclement weather the organizers of the inauguration of the Cohune Oil Processing Facility have postponed to event until next week. The inauguration is now scheduled for Wednesday May 26th in Flowers Bank Village in the Belize District. Through a project titled "Agriculture Enterprise Development for Rural Belize" the Belize Rural Development Program in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has co-financed the facility along with the European Union. The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program also invested in the facility through a project titled "Promotion of Sustainable Use of Biodiversity Resources in the Community Baboon Sanctuary". Coordinator Phillip Balderamos tells us more.

Phillip Balderamos; Coordinator, Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program 

"The project is designed to upgrade and standardize cohune oil processing up to a certified food quality standard. It is important for the residents of Flowers Bank because traditionally Flowers Bank has been a community that has been dependent on the production of cohune oil using the traditional method of breaking open the cohune, beating it with a mater, boiling it to extract the oil and then bottling it on the local market. This project will be providing a building that is designed and constructed to BAHA specifications along with quality equipment for upgrading the processing of oil and putting out a product that has a longer shelf life and that is more attractive and appealing to the market."

The process of making it more appealing will include standardized bottling and labelling. According to Balderamos the residents of Flowers Bank will have a major part to play in ensuring the sustainability of cohune oil production.

Phillip Balderamos

"The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Program is providing funds for training the residents of Flowers Bank under the Flowers Bank Community Group in the handling and processing of the cohune oil in a more modern and safe standard. Next week many partners will be there; the donors, the various government agencies that have helped to facilitate the project and the residents of neighbouring communities in the Belize River Valley Area. All of these entities have been directly involved in developing the project or in the actual implementation of the project and will be involved in supporting the management to the project so that it can be successful."

The Cohune Oil Processing Facility is worth approximately 250 thousand Belize dollars.