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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 ( 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:// Caribbean Week of Agriculture This annual event is held in a different Caribbean country every year around October/November. Agricultural Associations Caribbean Food Crops Society (CFCS) Caribbean Agro-Economic Society Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN) Institutions Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Inter –American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre 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.

The San Pedro Sun

Wolfe’s Woofers: Which is Worse?
It's the age related question, which is worse? Alzheimer's or Parkinson's?

Letter to the Editor: “Good Job Police!”
It's not often that we hear good deeds by police officers, but when they are doing a good job, it is always great to hear praise.

Doctor Love: I want the perfect woman
Reader: I want the perfect woman. Doctor: Good luck with that. (Not really, but excellent advice on listening and treating ALL women like queens Doc!)

Caribbean Sunset in Caye Caulker
I have a million pictures of sunsets, but I can’t resist photographing them. Never will I see the same glorious production twice, each one a stellar master piece to be remembered. I suppose this is why we all marvel at this end-of-the-day blessing, a parting gift from Mother Nature announcing that the day is done.

Misc Belizean Sources

Belize debt exchange offer successful
The government of Belize announced on Friday that holders of 86.2 percent of the country's US Dollar Bonds due 2029 (the "2029 Bonds") had tendered their bonds in response to Belize's February 15, 2013, offer to exchange those instruments for new Belize US Dollar Bonds due 2038 (the "2038 Bonds"). Belize's offer required tenders to be submitted to Citibank, in its capacity as the exchange agent for the transaction, by 5:00 pm (New York time) on Friday. Under the terms of the 2029 Bonds and Belize's exchange offer, holders of not less than 75 percent of the 2029 Bonds have instructed the trustee for those instruments to tender the entirety of the 2029 Bonds in exchange for 2038 Bonds in accordance with the terms of Belize's offer. The results of the tender process that ended on Friday means that such an exchange of the entirety of the 2029 Bonds is expected to take place at a closing of the transaction later this month.

Southern Passage Giant Cave Jan 2013
Well this is a bit of a work in progress on the lighting. We might need to revisit the jet pack concept. But cave in this area is much more clear and ornate. — with Chip Petersen, Carrie Greene O'Farrell and Living Reef Belize at Belize Diving Services.


A twinkle gleams in your eye
The poem below was written by Angela in honer of her short time roommate Kristy Lynn who recently passed. If you are out at a beach bar today please raise your glass to Kristy Lynn, she loved walking on the beach, it gave her some small bit of peace during a very difficult time. A good place to toast her is Live Rock and Roll 2pm – 5pm at the pool bar at Grand Caribe $5bzd local rum and $4bzd 10 oz beers. See invite and guest list on Cowboy’s Pool bar and Grill facebook invite. I also heard there a kite making contest at 9:30am but could not find any info Crazy Canuck’s beach bar facebook page and Google just turned up my 2009 kite contest at Crazy Canuck’s post. Contest or not it’s still worth stopping by this morning to enjoy some beach action and raise your glass to Kristy.

Walking North Ambergris Caye from Costa Maya Resort to Grand Caribe, Part One
Costa Maya Resort is 6.5 miles north of San Pedro town so getting up there was the first part of the trip. And that requires getting on the local water taxi, the Coastal Express (located at the Amigos Del Mar dock in town). Founded by John McAfee (you may have heard of him), it now has new management after Mr. McAfee quickly departed Belize. After we dropping off all but one passenger, our boat left the Las Terrazas dock and spotted a small turtle that wasn’t moving. Baby turtle in distress? Only the very cruelest of souls could cruise on by…our captain asked both of us if we were in a huge rush and we stopped to save the turtle. But the poor guy had already passed. We threw the sucker fish back into the water and took the turtle back to Las Terrazas where the employees on the dock were going to call The Belize Turtlewatch program. Awwwww…

US – Belizean Cultural Heritage Effort Hailed
The recent signing of a memorandum of understanding between the United States and Belize is a major step forward in protecting the little Caribbean country’s cultural heritage, a spokesman for the Belize Natural History Centre at Chaa Creek said today. Brion Young said that the memorandum, announced 5 march 2013 by the US Department of State, demonstrates a commitment on the part of the two countries to end the looting of Maya temples and archaeological sites in Belize and halt the illegal trade of Maya artefacts. The MOU also covers the illegal trafficking of Belize’s African, Spanish, British and other cultural treasures. “Over the years we have lost so much of our heritage to looters, and we salute the United States in working with the Government of Belize to put a stop to this. Just as the original Declaration of Independence and other historical artefacts are important to US citizens, we value the icons of our country’s history and culture,” Mr Young said.

Belize Snapshot: Long Caye Aquarium Sea Turtle
This shot was taken while doing the third dive of my Blue Hole trip, at Long Caye Aquarium. In my opinion, this dive site is the most beautiful of all the “Blue Hole” dives since it has the boggles variety of corals, sea life, and the brightest colors. It’s a shame the underwater camera I rented wasn’t working properly, so all my pictures came out slightly tinted. But at least I was able to capture some of the underwater beauty at Lighthouse Reef, including this peaceful sea turtle who was adventurous enough to get close to us while looking for food.

Digital Nomad Location Spotlight: Ambergris Caye, Belize
San Pedro, located in Ambergris Caye, Belize, is a tropical paradise located a short flight away from the U.S. It is an excellent destination for those seeking to explore extended living abroad, but only a short distance from home. San Pedro can quickly put a spell on visitors, many of whom decide to return to make Belize their permanent home. Belize offers a great advantage to the digital nomad in that only local income is taxed, leaving you exempt from it if your business is located overseas. Check out Belize. You might fall for it too.

Why my fear of spiders kept me from exploring Belize’s ATM Cave
I’m embarassed to admit that yes, it was in fact spiders that kept me from going into Actun Tunichil Muknal, or ATM Cave, with Justin during our time in Belize this August. Lame, I know. You see, I have an almost debilitating fear of those annoying little arachnids and I was convinced that a great place to encounter some really creepy spiders would be in a deep, dark cave. No, thank you! Unfortunately, my decision to stay back at the hotel while Justin went adventuring turned out to be one I would greatly regret as I, apparently, missed out on one of the coolest experiences in all of Belize. Justin came back to the hotel that afternoon a total adventure high, assailing the cave as one of the coolest adventures he’s ever gone on (right up there with swimming with sharks!). And that’s saying a lot coming from a chronic adventurer like himself! ATM cave is one of Belize’s most popular attractions, and it’s an easy day trip from multiple locations throughout the country, though it’s most commonly undertaken from San Ignacio. Although it’s not overly physically strenuous, it is not for those without a moderate level of physical fitness and a decent sense of adventure. Visitors will hike along a jungle path for about 45 minutes before the reach the entrance to the cave. During that hike, they will be required to cross several shallow streams.

The 2013 Central American Games In Costa Rica
The 2013 Central American Games are currently being held in San José, Costa Rica- March 3-17th. They are the largest multi-sport event ever organized in the country. Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama brought their best athletes to the games, which is taking place in San José for the first time since its inaugural edition in 1973. More than 3,000 athletes from the region will compete and vie for medals in 26 different sports. Kenneth Medwood (C) runs to win the gold medal between Costa Rica's Gerald Drummond (L) and Guatemala's Gerber Blanco in the men's 400m hurdles final. Costa Rica's Ana Porras (C) competes against Katy Sealy (R) 2nd place for Belize with a total of 4398 points, a personal best and national record for Belize, and Maria Morazan of Nicaragua in 3rd place in the 100m hurdles of the heptathlon.

“Drive” but not in Ambergris Caye, Belize
When pulling yesterday’s edition together I forgot to include a photo I took when Rose and I were at the Farmers Market in Dallas and have no real reason for including it today other than it amused us. Was this Old MacDonald away from his farm for the day? We have had a good stay at the hotel we have been at for the last six nights. Good room, fairly good choice for breakfast (and lots of it) and fairly centrally located. One thing I will not miss though is the unusually high bed. As our stay progressed I found the easiest way to get in to the bed was via a Fosbury Flop routine. Getting out of bed was just a case of putting the legs over the side and launching myself. Both proved to be very effective. Thought I had really started to get my body clock back into sync when I woke up at 5.45 am this morning that is until I found out that the clock had gone forward by an hour for the start of Daylight Saving Time so it was really 6.45 am! Cant win.

International Sources

Living With Less. A Lot Less.
I LIVE in a 420-square-foot studio. I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts. I have 10 shallow bowls that I use for salads and main dishes. When people come over for dinner, I pull out my extendable dining room table. I don’t have a single CD or DVD and I have 10 percent of the books I once did. I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when, flush with cash from an Internet start-up sale, I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets. Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me. My circumstances are unusual (not everyone gets an Internet windfall before turning 30), but my relationship with material things isn’t. We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products.

Travel Channel Highlights Growing Trend In Belize Asserts Chaa Creek
The Travel Channel’s recent feature on the Cayo District of Western Belize highlights an emerging trend in travel to the increasingly popular Caribbean destination, according to one of the area’s most visited eco resorts. Bryony Fleming Bradley, The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s assistant general manager, said the March 8 feature article, “Spotlight on Belize“, was correct in pointing out that the Cayo District is now the second most visited area in Belize. “The increasing popularity of Western Belize and the Cayo District has been a real topic of discussion lately among local tourism industry professionals, so it was very timely to see this emerging trend appear on the Travel Channel,” Ms Fleming Bradley said. “Belize is so justly famous for snorkelling and scuba diving along our Caribbean Sea coast and the Belize Barrier Reef that our many inland attractions are sometimes overlooked. “However, more and more people are discovering how much there is to do in Belize’s vibrant west, with its huge tracts of pristine rainforest, meandering rivers, exotic wildlife and the abundance of Maya temples and ancient cities, and the word is spreading,” Ms Fleming Bradley said.