Residents of the old Northern Highway are benefitting from a gift from the Venezuelan government. But no, it's not a bundle of housing grants, instead its 1,500 chicks of the broiler variety, a type of chicken raised specifically for meat production.

The chicks were distributed in the communities of Maskall, Corozalito, Bomba, Lucky Strike and Nagu Bank on Monday by the Ministry of Agriculture and area Representative Edmund Castro.

CEO in the ministry of agriculture Gabino Canto explained that the programme targets poor farmers with the idea to make them self-sustainable and somewhat reverse the phenomenon of urban drift:…

Gabino Canto: CEO in the ministry of agriculture
"For Venezuela to give us one million dollars, to assist people and the very poor farmers, poor people at the very bottom to help them produce food for themselves. We are helping people all over the country, under assistance called integrating farming system. Those people who do farming, the extension officers goes there, look at what they have, where they can help so that the people can produce food for themselves and also produce more so that they can sell to make money at the farm. The objective is for the farmers to make money at the farm, and also employ people around to work with them if possible and to keep the young people on the farm so that they don't go to Belize City or Orange Walk Town to look for jobs, to stay in the villages. 60 people will benefit in each district so the chicken that you are getting today is actually a form of assistance for you to be able to produce food for yourself and also if you learn the technique of producing this kind of chicken."

The government of Venezuela has set aside one million dollars for poor farmers.

In related news, reports to 7news are that the UDP's central Executive has decided that UDP standard bearer for Belize Rural North Edmund Castro must face a contested convention.

By our understanding, that means the deadline for those wishing to challenge him - which was closed a month ago with no challenger appearing - will now be re-opened. Castro was stripped of his minister of state portfolio after he was involved in a land transaction where a buyer told the Prime Minister he defrauded her.

Channel 7