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#521949 - 02/25/17 06:49 AM Today's Belize News: February 25, 2017  
Joined: Oct 1999
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Specials and Events

Last night's TV news on Channel 7, Channel 5, LOVETV, PGTV, West Vision (Cayo) and CTV 3. Also with the most recent Open Your Eyes, and other specials


The San Pedro Sun

Broadway entertainer Sean McDermott performs for a great cause
The Sunshine Scholarship Foundation’s Benefit Concert came to a reality on Wednesday, February 22nd as Broadway performer Sean McDermott brought down the house! The Palapa Bar and Grill hosted the event from 7PM to 10PM, and it was well attended by music enthusiastic and supporters. Prior to show time, Isla Bonita Elementary School’s (IEBS) drumline showcased their drumming skills. Opening the show with a brief welcome address was Mistress of Ceremonies Teresa Nicholson, who introduced McDermott, sharing his achievements with the audience. “McDermott has starred on Broadway and in television, performed for the President of the United States, and even sang with Barbra Streisand on her European Tour. He recently performed in Moscow with the symphony orchestra for the 100th Birthday of Frank Sinatra,” said Nicholson. McDermott graciously took the stage and sang a beautiful selection influenced by Sinatra, Michael Bublé, Tom Jones, Frankie Valli, and Jersey Boys. With songs like “It Had Better Be Tonight”, “It’s Not Unusual”, “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You”, and “Fly with Me”, the crowd was eager to dance, cheering loudly for more.

Belize’s Hyperbaric Chamber introduces resident general practitioner and dive medic
The Sub-aquatics of Belize Limited is pleased to present new general practitioner and certified dive medic, Dr. Cornelio Teck. Originally from San Ignacio Town, Cayo District, Dr. Teck received his medical education in Cuba, after which he did his internship program in both Belmopan and Belize City. He has recently moved to Ambergris Caye, where he now offers his many services in San Pedro Town at the Hyperbaric Chamber. Dr. Teck has been trained and is a certified chamber tender and operator. He has treated diving accidents in Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel, Mexico from initial urgent care, assessment, to neurological examinations, diagnosis, treatment and prescriptions. However, his services go beyond hyperbaric medicine, offering family medicine with knowledge in pathologies pertaining to general surgery, orthopedics, pediatrics and internal medicine. As an added bonus, Dr. Teck is also offering free consultations for Dive Masters. He is eager to work alongside other doctors in the community, especially certified dive medics, as he grows into his role at the Hyperbaric Chamber. He will be residing in the same building as well. The chamber also announces that tours will be offered every Wednesday, starting March 1st. Visitors are invited to tour the facility, look at the chamber unit itself and learn how it is set up, and what equipment is being used to ensure that our community, in particular the dive community, remains safe. There will be a 10 AM and a 5 PM guided tour.

Belize misses Super Bond
On Monday, February 20th, the Government of Belize (GOB) failed to make a payment of US$13 million or BZ$26 million towards the 2038 Super Bond. Belize now has 60 days to meet payments, or else it can result in the loss of savings obtained from the last restructuring of the Bond in 2012 and 2013, when creditors had agreed to an 11% reduction. Although the payment was missed, the country has a grace period of 30 days before it is declared a default. In an attempt to reach a third restructuring of the Super Bond, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, along with a Belizean delegation, travelled to New York City, New York USA on Tuesday, February 14th to meet with bondholder representatives. The meeting did not yield the expected results, and upon Barrow’s return to the country on Sunday, February 19th, the PM told reporters that he is cautiously optimistic that a deal for softened terms on the bond could be reached before the grace period expires.

Rotary Club of Ambergris Caye launches new fund raising projects
The Rotary Club of Ambergris Caye (RCAC) has been brainstorming on fundraising methods to support all of their projects that benefit the island community, and recently they have launched two new ways of collecting the much needed funds.

Ambergris Today

The Beautification of the Island Commences
On Thursday, February 23, 2017, the San Pedro Town Council held its final consultation based on a local economic development strategic plan for San Pedro Town. Many public consultations have been held, surveys have been taken and with the help of proffesionals from Candada thanks to CARILED the projects have started. Although not all projects have been finalized and still need to be reviewed, some like the reclamation of beaches will commense this Saturday, February 25, 2017. In the area of Boca Del Rio, solar powered lights have been installed especially in the park and more are yet to be installed along the beach. This program falls under CARILED- Caribbean Local Economic Development Project that is coordinated by Leidi Urbina here in Belize. CARILED is a Canadian government organization that helps developing countries with projects to develop and test models of Local Economic Development across the Caribbean.

Misc Belizean Sources

mzz

BELIZE RED CROSS BLOOD DRIVE ON CAYE CAULKER!
CC will be having a blood donation drive on Saturday 4 March from 9AM - 3PM. Donating blood is crucial and life saving for people who are sick or have injuries. Any of us could need blood at any time. If you donate blood you or a loved one are eligible to get blood in the future. Please, please come out and support the health of the community and yourselves! Please put this on your calendar and PM with any questions. No appointments needed! Tell your friends and guests! To those awesome people who contacted me about volunteering I will be in touch soon. Thank you!

BOOM FEST
Presidente Belize Presents BOOM FEST at The La Ruta Maya on Sunday March 5th at Handerson Park, Burrel Boom from 12noon to 7PM@! LIVE #Music and Performances by : Tanya Carter, Supa G, Sweet Pain Band, Gilharry 7, Ernestine, Denise Castillo, Unlimited, Black Chiney, Harlem Youths, No Fear DJs, DJ Jago & Royal Sounds! Get 4 Presidente Beers for ONLY $11.00 It's Gonna Be Massive! Don't Miss It!

'Seagrasses' vital to coastal health
The importance of seagrasses to the health of coastal ecosystems is underlined in new research conducted around Indonesian atolls. These underwater flowering plants, which have been with us since the age of the dinosaurs, have long been known to have anti-microbial properties. But the latest study demonstrates that their presence really does help to suppress pollution. Coral reefs also seem to be in a better condition when the grasses are nearby. Although these plants grow in vast meadows, fringing every continent except Antarctica, they are also being damaged on a large scale by human activities, with global losses estimated at 7% each year since 1990. Dr Joleah Lamb and colleagues tell this week's Science Magazine that the "ecosystem services" provided by the grasses should be valued more highly.

The Belize Literary Prize 2016
The Belize Literary Prize 2016. The Criteria for Flash Fiction and the Criteria for Poetry - the 2 Genres open for our yearly writing competition. Please email entries to belizebookindustry@gmail.com GOOD LUCK!

Sea cucumber Fishing Season Notice
In accordance with Section 11 of Statutory Instrument No. 67 of 2009, under the Fisheries Act Chapter 210 of the Laws of Belize Revised Edition 2000-2003, the Fisheries Administrator hereby informs all fishers and the public that the season for the extraction for all species of sea cucumber will remain closed for 2017. Thus, no person should fish or have in his possession any sea cucumber. This is necessary for the Department to undertake a more comprehensive assessment of the stocks to strengthen management measures for the conservation and sustainable utilization of this species. The cooperation of the fishing community and the public is greatly appreciated.

Warming up for Sun & Moon Festival at Luna Loca
Saturday, February 25 at 8 PM - 12 AM. Saturday is the first warm up party for the Sun Moon festival. If you are on the island, come down and have a few drinks and dance to some great house music. Featuring DJ's Matt Hoy and GracieRock

Community Outreach and Cookout
The Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project is having its second Community Outreach and Cookout at the House of Culutre. The purpose of our Cookouts is to draw in the members of the community into a property that has been off-limits to them for most of the history of the property. The aims is to create an immersive, inclusive and positive atmosphere of history and culture where all visitors from far and near will feel comfortable and willing to participate in the rejuvenation and recreation of our Government House Property. Saturday, March 18 at 11 AM - 4 PM, Government House ~ House of Culture (NICH) Regent Street, Belize City

Captain Shark's Belize celebrating 20 Years
Ambergris Today joins the community of San Pedro in congratulating Captain Shark's Belize celebrating 20 Years of service to Ambergris Caye. Happy Anniversary!

BELTRAIDE TO ASSIST BELIZEAN ARTISTS TO PROMOTE THEIR MUSIC
EXPORTBelize, a unit of BELTRAIDE, hosted a brief meeting this morning, Friday 24th February, 2017 with Belizean Artists/Musicians to put forth the development of their Electronic Press Kits (EPK). An Electronic Press Kit for musicians is a collection of materials used for promotional use in order for them to get bookings and press coverage; this is essentially their RESUME. These EPK’s will be exhibited at an Exposition in Astana, Kazakhstan that will run from June 10th to September 10th, 2017, showcasing 100 countries in areas of Destination, Trade in Services and Culture, with expectation of receiving over 5million visits. These artists/musicians will then be exposed to opportunities for bookings, media coverage and other business deals, as well as Belize’s culture will be brought to life through the medium of rich Belizean music.

Poets Corner: Circus
By Abdulmajeed K Nunez. Deh rass start with the mandamus When the COMPOL took the courts for a circus For higher ups the system puts them first The Pinochet case is the ‘locos classicus’ That justice must seem to be done Or the people will create a ruckus They will see the judiciary for what it is ‘a circus’ Justice must not only be done But must seem to be done How can any politician intervene for their son? Then have the nerve to go on national television Saying, “… explain to me if you should stand There to make some foreigner or some Guatemalan Or whoever he kill you backside and then run across the border And the case done. I say hell no." It’s supposed to be the courts to make that determination If it was self defence or another offence It’s a conflict of interest for a minister To use his office for his son’s defence Godwin is talking nonsense

Poetry night at Corozal Public Library
Poetry Night was Great! Our thanks to Y-Not-Bakery, Rony's Tortilla Factory and Mrs. Patt for providing the snacks for the participants.

Sports Day at Corozal Community College!

MCPS Receives New Bathroom Block
The Rotary Club of San Ignacio had the inauguration of the new bathrooms at Mount Carmel primary school this week. Thanks, Rotary, for all the bathrooms you've built, and are planning on building for the local schools. "Mt. Carmel RC Primary School in Benque Viejo received the keys to their new toilet building provided by an international Rotary project today at a joyful handing over ceremony. The Rotary Club of Greater Bend, Oregon and the Rotary Club of San Ignacio, along with the Rotary Foundation and Rotary Districts funded this construction for a project focused and clean water and sanitation, and basic health and hygiene education. The project was funded for $78,000 BZ ($36,000 US) and serves the Standard 4 - 6 (upper division) student population of about 300. The previous building was 54 years old and in great need of replacing. New toilet facilities like this have been built through our club's efforts in 11 other schools in Cayo. Student attendance and health measurably increase when toilet systems are updated on a school campus and hygiene education is emphasized."

Women's Guerilla Art Show Call
The Wildfire Artmosphere is calling for female artists for the upcoming Women's Guerilla Art Show. "CALL FOR ARTISTS! LADIES! Women around the world R doing stuff. R you ready? We can't think of a better way to inaugurate our new red walls!"

Macro-invertebrate study as part of monitoring the headwaters of the Chiquibul Forest
The second macro-invertebrate study is underway as part of monitoring the headwaters of the Chiquibul Forest. FCD’s team have covered the field work and back in office the analysis has begun. This project is made possible through a PACT Medium Grant.

MAKING STUDENTS GREAT
Twenty Two students from Saint Michael's RC Primary School In Belmopan graduated from the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Program. Students participated in six key lessons with the basic message; to keep away from gangs, drugs and violence.

Channel 7

Cyber-Bullying Spree On Facebook - GOB Trying to Come Up With Laws
Belizean Cheaters - it's a Facebook group that has been overheating Belize's Social Media scene for the past week. The group traffics in little more than low-down gossip, revenge porn, and just plain old "bad mind" - but it's been garnering thousands of page views from those who delight in nothing more than "shoosh." But now, it's garnering mainstream media attention because someone maliciously posted the picture of an 11 year old girl accusing her of having sexual relations with adult men. That crossed the line and the child's mother called Southside Police Commander Chester Williams who posted on social media that he will "deal with those responsible." But, deal with them how? Are there even laws on the books to prosecute those who engage in cyber-bullying? There aren't, and today the press asked the Attorney General Mike Peyrefitte and the Solicitor General Nigel Hawke about it:...

GOB Can't Serve Suit On Vega
We also got to ask the AG about the case against Andre Vega, the son of former Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega, and attorney Sharon Pitts. Last year, news broke that they had been awarded hefty government compensation for land that was already owned - and should never have been sold. The Ministry of Natural Resources then demanded that those monies be paid back within one month, which did not happen. Since then the Attorney General's office has committed to filing suit against both parties in order to get the money back. We asked Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte and Solicitor General Nigel Hawke for an update. Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Attorney General: "It is strictly a legal matter and the SG the person who is the head litigator for that case as he has told me, he has difficulty locating Mr. Vega to serve him personally and he may have to do substituted service, but we have served Ms. Pitts. It was purely a legal matter, it is a matter that went into the system before I became an attorney general. I have no intentions of discontinuing. The court will decide what the court will decide."

Ashcroft Alliance and GOB Remain Locked In Court Battles
Hawke also gave us a brief update about the Ashcroft Alliance's latest challenge. It seeks to discharge the Supreme Court's injunction which stops Belize Bank and BCB HOLDINGS from attempting to enforce awards granted by the US Courts earlier this year. The court granted a temporary injunction three weeks ago - and now the Ashcroft Alliance wants it lifted. Nigel Hawke: "Like I said I don't want to comment too much on these matters, because the matters are before the court. What we know there is a challenge to discharge the injunction that it was granted in favor of GOB, that will be heard on Monday. Mr. Denys Barrow, senior counsel, is representing the government of Belize in that matter. Like I said before because those matters are before the courts, we would not comment on the merits or demerits of those cases."

Will GOB Probe Deeper Into Immigration Intrigues?
Peyrefitte also answered questions about the ongoing Senate inquiry. The press asked if he sees any reason for further investigations into the matters revealed in the probe, or other related immigration scandals such as Nanes Shnitzer. Reporter: "In relation to the entire senate probe that's ongoing, there have been a lot of disclosures and in particular since then a lot of back and forth as it relates to the disclosures of Ms. Ruth Meighan about electoral fraud and so. As attorney general would you hope that that's a matter that's investigating alongside the what's now been disclosed for the Nanes Shnitzer case with an internal investigation done and certain people being deemed as needing disciplinary action but also a police investigation alongside that?" Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Attorney General: "The police investigation will depends on what the police wants to do. Many criminal moves that want to be made, will be left to the DPP. You may want to ask her that. But in general as a senator myself, I want to respect that senators. I want them to finish with their inquiry and then we will see what recommendations they made from that body. Until then I wouldn't want to say anything that would prejudice their inquiry that's taking place right now."

GOB Not Bracing For Deportees
And, finally, on the subject of deportation the AG answered questions about whether there has been a rush of deportees sent back, or headed to Belize since Donald Trump was elected President. Now, we know there has been fake news saying 1,800 Belizeans were rounded up in the US for deportation. But, that has no basis in fact, since the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports that in February just over 600 illegal persons were picked up in total, in operations targeting criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives. No special mention was made of Belizeans. The attorney general said they are not aware of any rush of deportations:... Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Attorney General: "I am not aware that there's any official policy to deport Belizean who are incarcerated yes, I would like to think that most Belizeans are here legally. It has not reached the point where it is such an important policy consideration that we need to come up with something to address it. We have not been notified by any of our counsels or by our embassy abroad that we it will become an issue. But if it does certainly we can find a way to address it. It has not come as an urgent matter to consider."

Supa G - Why He Was Turned Back At Houston
Supa G is Belize's most well known and successful Punta Rocker - and much os his popularity comes from the United States where he plays to adoring crowds of Belizean Americans. But Supa will have to slow it down for at least the next few months. That's after he was turned back by US Immigration earlier this week. Supa arrived in Houston on the 22nd on a visitor's visa. But, while his manager says he was there as an ambassador, performers need what is known as a P3 Visa. We spoke to his manager via telephone from California this evening: Cyril "Uruwei" Garcia, Supa G's Manager: "On February 22, Supa G was on his way to Houston to represent Belize as a cultural ambassador, not to perform. The Houston tri-country regional black chamber of commerce invited him to join honored guests, the Love Foundation, to the 4th annual conference and award gala. He was denied entry into the US as a result of not holding a P3 visa. He couldn't return on that same day, because there were no flights leaving Houston to Belize after the investigation process. So he had to return the following day which is Thursday 23rd. We are actively working on his P3 visa. One of his supervisors at the US Immigration Department has actually assured us that this is not an end to his musical career in the United States and that there are other artists with offences on their record that have been allowed entry after such experience. So his fans in the US, we can assured them that he will be back in the US in no time."

Woman Charged For Manslaughter of Husband
On Valentine's night, Geneva Estrada allegedly pushed her common law husband Eric Moses down a flight of stairs. He hit his head, and later died. She was originally charged for dangerous harm, but today, that charge was upgraded to manslaughter. Because of the nature of the offence, bail could not be offered. She was remanded into custody until April 17. According to the allegation, Estrada got angry with him and pushed him. Moses hit the back of his when he tumbled to the bottom of the stairs, and he lost consciousness.

Constable Jamil To Jail
Tonight a cop is serving the first night of a three month jail sentence after he stole a police radio. Chief Magistrate, Anne Marie Smith sentenced Police constable Jamil Scott to 3 months today after he was found guilty. His girlfriend, Jelsie Zapeta, who was charged with handling stolen goods for the Kenwood brand radio, was found not guilty. Back in September, 2014, the radio went missing from a police mobile that was parked in the Raccoon Street Police Station compound. Later that night, when Scott left the station on his motorcycle, police intercepted him at the corner of Raccoon and Elston Kerr Streets and told him to return to the police station. Scott instead went to Novelo's Bus Terminal on West Collet Canal, but police detained his girlfriend there and found that she had the police radio in a bag. Scott and Zepeta both gave statements from the dock in which they denied they stole anything. But Chief Magistrate Smith rejected it; she told Scott that she does not believe his statement; that it was fraught with lies. She said that in the case of Zepeta she is not convinced that Zepeta knew that the radio was stolen she she acquitted her while convicting her boyfriend.

Belize Comes Again With FOPREL
Last month we told you that new House Speaker Laura Longsworth will take over the regional parliamentarian organization, FOPREL. That's the abbreviation for the Forum of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments of Central American and the Caribbean Basin. This will be the second time that Belize's takes over the rotating presidency. And so, tonight, Longsworth, Senate President Lee Mark Chang, and National Assembly Clerk Eddie Webster are in Managua, Nicaragua. That's where FOPREL's Headquarters are located, and in an inauguration ceremony, Longsworth officially accepted the presidency. She took over from the outgoing president, Oscar Chinchilla, who is the President of the President of the parliament of Guatemala. Belize will hold the Presidency for 1 year, after which it will be passed along to one of the other 9 member states.

CDB Remains Committed to Belize
And, tonight, in our final report from last week's CDB Press Conference in Barbados, we have bank president Dr. Warren Smith discussing the Bank's Special Development Fund, the Bank's largest pool of concessionary funds. That has an interest rate of only 1% and it is earmarked for landing to agencies such as Belize's Social Investment Fund. Smith told us that a significant portion of those funds will be earmarked for Belize:.. Warren Smith, President CDB: "Belize is going to get a big chuck of that money which as I understand it, works through Belize SIF (Social Investment Fund). So I mentioned to you in my earlier remarks that our experience has been that Belize has used those resources very effectively in the past and it is one of the countries where we like to take people and show them what can be accomplished."

Figuring Out Fisheries
In other Caribbean news, a study is underway to look at the impacts of rising cost factors on fishing operations in the Caribbean. The workshop will be held next week in Barbados and it will review a study, carried out in Belize, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other Caribbean nations. The workshop will examine, factors such as capital, labor, maintenance and energy costs. The idea is to propose strategies to improve efficiency, productivity and sustainability in the fisheries sector.

Concert For Kids Living With HIV
About 120 kids under 18 are living with HIV in Belize - that's the number the National Aids Commission has in their records. But there are more kids out there born HIV positive. And you can help The National Aids Commission along with Hand in Hand Ministers reach out to all these kids by attending their fundraiser event tonight. It's the "Unite for the Children" benefit concert. It was scheduled to start at 7:00 at the BFLA compound on Mercy Lane. There will be performances from the Pantempers Steel Orchestra and Pandemonium Steel Band. The Communications and Programs Officer at the National Aids Commission told me more about the significance of the concert.

Many Ways to Love Lady Lila
Belize's Queen of Brukdong will be buried next week Thursday in PG. But her vibrant soul, unique style and strong cultural imprint will live on forever. Well known Mortician and close friend of Lila, Stanley Lizama is keeping her spirit alive in his way . Lizama got a mannequin and designed a replica of Lila Vernon performing, with Mic and all. Lizama told us today just how special this display is to him. Everyone is invited to view or take pictures . Lizama lives just off Baymen Avenue, near Alaska store.

Belize Won Some, Lost Some At Beach Soccer
Earlier this week, we told you how Team Belize was turning heads in the First Round of the 2017 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championships, when they beat Jamaica in a penalty shootout. That game ended in a tie, but Belize managed to score 2 penalty shots, snatching that first match away from their opponents. Well, since then, they've gone up against Bahamas and Guyana, and in those games, Belize lost 3-nil and 4-1 respectively. So, that takes Belize out of the running for the top 8 countries, but that doesn't mean that the beach footballers aren't still giving it their all. They're currently battling for 9th place and today, they played an impressive game against the US Virgin Islands. They had a rocky start when the US Virgin Islands scored the first 3 goals on them, and those went unanswered. In the final period However, Team Belize turned up the game play and scored 4 consecutive goals. The US Virgin Islands scored their last goal of the match, and after that, Team Belize made two clutch goals in the last few minutes.

Mayan Pendant Continues to Intrigue
In 2015, 7News was first to report on the second largest piece of carved piece of jade ever found in Belize and probably in the entire Maya World. It was unearthed at Nim Li Punit in the Toledo District and researchers are still marveling over it. An online news outlet named "phys.ORG" quotes a paper recently published in the Cambridge University journal Ancient Mesoamerica detailing the jewel's significance. According to Archaeologist Geoffrey Braswell it's the only pendant known to be inscribed with a historical text. Carved into the pendant's back are 30 hieroglyphs about its first owner. Braswell notes, quote, "We would expect something like it in one of the big cities of the Maya world. Instead, here it was, far from the center." End quote. The pendant measures 7.4 inches wide, 4.1 inches high and just 0.3 inches thick. The article notes that sawing it into this thin, flat form using string, fat and jade dust would have been a technical feat.

Play, Lila, Play!
And for the end of the news tonight, we'll keep it in the south, with a look back at some of PG resident Lila Vernon's memorable performances which were captured on camera. These archival clips are courtesy NICH Belize and AEAU productions.

Channel 5

Is Andre Vega Evading Court Action for Haulover Compensation?
Andre Vega, son of former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, remains at the heart of a land scandal involving a parcel of prime real estate near the Haulover Creek and [...]

Breaking “Belizean Cheaters”: Women Deplore Lascivious Content Shared Online
Since the weekend, the social media page, Belizean Cheaters and all its evolutions have been wreaking havoc across the country.  Even as the pages are reported to the Facebook Administrator, [...]

Government Moves to Address “Cyber Crimes”
The chorus of disapproval in the wake of the social media spectacle is forcing lawmakers to look carefully at new legislation to address the issue of cyber bullying.  As it [...]

Getting to the Bottom of the Arbitral Awards
Lord Michael Ashcroft’s interview with News Five this week touched on a wide range of topics but the one of most current interest is the various arbitral awards under litigation [...]

Michael Ashcroft Says New Laws Unnecessary and a Distraction
As pointed out by the principals of Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited, the language in the Crown Proceedings (Amendment) Act is similar to those passed in the Supreme Court of Judicature [...]

CIHL Goes to Court Against Anti-Arbitration Injunction; G.O.B. Holds Firm
And this coming Monday, February twenty-seventh, the Supreme Court will hear an application by CIHL to discharge an injunction granted by Justice Michelle Arana restraining the company from enforcing a [...]

A.G. Says Deportation Not an Issue for Belize
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, have begun deportation raids in support of new policy by the Donald Trump administration. Hundreds have been rounded up across the country [...]

U.S. Turns Back Supa G from Texas
Belizean entertainer Supa G is back in the country after being denied entry into the United States earlier this week.  The popular artist, born Lensford Martinez, was traveling to Houston, [...]

Superbond Consent Offer Extended Again; S&P Sceptical, Lowers Ratings
Earlier this week, the Government of Belize announced deferral of the coupon payment of almost twenty-six million Belize dollars to holders of the Belize 2038 Bonds. Officially, the plan is [...]

Ashcroft Says Investors May Turn Away from Belize without Security
Turning to the current state of the economy…Lord Michael Ashcroft says that Belize has not shown the promise engendered by the various monies spent here over the last decade or [...]

Ashcroft Vs Barrow? Lord Michael Says It Was Never Personal
We asked Lord Ashcroft how things seemed to get so personal between himself and Prime Minister Dean Barrow over the various situations involving B.T.L. and the subsequent arbitral awards. To [...]

Wife’s Charges Upgraded to Manslaughter for Pushing Husband to Death
On Valentine’s Day, a couple living on Victoria Street was socializing when it is alleged the woman pushed her common-law husband down the stairs. He sustained a head injury when [...]

Immigration Still Interested in Chon Saan Building But Looking at Other Options
Will government proceed with the purchase of the Chon Saan Building in Belmopan?  As we’ve reported, the Immigration Department is looking for real estate to house a new passport system [...]

Chamber of Commerce Sore over Superbond
The unpaid national debt that looms over Belize’s fragile economy continues to be a matter of concern in various sectors, including the business community.  On Thursday, the Belize Chamber of [...]

Who is Behind Takeover of ‘Picado Road’ in Lake Independence?
Residents living at mile two and half on the George Price Highway on a street called “Lucky Street” say that it appears that one of the designated streets in their [...]

Mexican Artist and S.J.C. Students Adorn Mexican Institute Wall with Mural
A Mexican artist and students from Saint John’s College collaborated on mural earlier this week. The use of stencil and graffiti style art piece was started earlier this week and [...]

Taking “Art Action” Against Domestic Violence
Reported cases of domestic violence are on the increase even though there are many that never make it to the police; and in other instances statements have been made, but [...]


#521950 - 02/25/17 06:50 AM Re: Today's Belize News: February 25, 2017 [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 56,721
Marty Offline
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Amandala

Senate orders Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett to appear
The Senate Select Committee has issued summons to Eric Chang, former Belize City Deputy Mayor, and Patrick Tillett, Belize City Council Financial Controller. Two weeks ago, the two men were invited by the Committee to respond to allegations made against them in the Auditor General’s Special Report for the period 2011-2013. The report claimed that an Immigration officer removed 8 visa stickers from the Western border and gave it to a man identified as “Mr. Middleton,” who took them to Belize City and sold them to Chang and Tillett, who wrote statements confirming this transaction. In an interview today, Wednesday, chairman of the committee, Aldo Salazar, confirmed, “As far as I understand, we have issued the summons. I am not sure if it’s for today’s date or yesterday, but we have issued it.”

Cops pursuing “Belizean Cheaters” after cyber-bullying of child
Since this weekend, scandalous Facebook pages, carrying the name “Belizean Cheaters”, of which there are now several versions, captioned parts 2, 3, 4 plus other social media versions, described as “uncut” for their raw video content, have gone viral, with one social media group garnering as many as 12,000 members after a scandal broke about someone accused of being a cheating cop. The groups do not just scandalize adults, but go further to post harmful comments about minors as well. One such case was brought to the attention of police, and while there has been no official statement on the matter, or no arrest, we are told that police were called to intervene in a fight over a post via the group. The egregious case in question involves an 11-year-old child whose picture was posted along with her name with allegations of affairs with grown men, but the post went on to suggest that the child would give her body to any man for little or nothing—what could be deemed as a covert attempt to support child prostitution.

Supa G denied entry into the US
Lensford Martinez, a popular Punta artist better known as “Supa G,” was denied entry into the United States today, Thursday. Our sources in the Immigration Department have revealed that he arrived back home on South West Airlines today because US immigration officers found him inadmissible. We are told that he admitted to US Immigration that he had performed in that country, which was a violation of his b1/b2 tourist visa. When we spoke to Supa G tonight, he told us that he was not ready to discuss the matter until he spoke to his manager and the organization that invited him to perform.

Teachers won – no docking of salaries for strike
The Ministry of Education has officially abandoned its stance that it would dock the salaries of teachers who staged 11 days of protest in October of last year in their demand for the Government of Belize to adopt a list of good governance policies. As a result, thousands of teachers across the country will collect their full salaries and the school year will be extended by six days so as to make up time lost in accordance with the Education rules. This is the result of a Supreme Court-ordered mediation between the Belize National Teachers Union and the Ministry of Education, which began three weeks ago.

Did someone hustle off David Nanes/Banes-Schnitzer’s nationality documents?
International fugitive David Nanes-Schnitzer, who defrauded thousands of investors in a Ponzi scheme, according to US/Mexican authorities, is again making headline news. The media has obtained a 14-page internal memorandum written by former Immigration Director Maria Marin on December 11, 2015 to then Immigration CEO, Edmund Zuniga, which revealed how the fugitive was able to easily obtain fraudulent Belizean documents in a process shady from the start to the end. It was Police Legal Officer, Bart Jones, who informed Marin of his concerns about Nanes. Marin thereafter conducted an internal investigation into his immigration documents. On November 29, 2012, using the name David Miguel Banes, Nanes applied for Belizean nationality.

St. Catherine Academy assists potato farmers
Potato growers are presently finding it very difficult to sell their produce and are taking heavy losses due to a glut on the market caused by the importation of contraband potatoes. However, two farmers from the San Carlos Group in Orange Walk were given a boost by the staff and students (assisted by their parents) of St. Catherine Academy in Belize City. The students bought 1,800 pounds of potatoes and their sister school, Muffles College of Orange Walk Town, bought 1,500 pounds today. Salome Castillo, principal of St. Catherine Academy, told Amandala today that the farmers were paid $1, 620 when they brought their produce to the school. She said that the money to the farmers was a drop in the bucket, but every little bit counts.

NEBL “In the Paint”
It has been a rollercoaster season so far for the Western Ballaz (2-2) basketball team. Their season goes like this: win… loss… win… loss. A tale of inconsistency, so to speak. Nevertheless, hopes are running high as they host the visiting Bandits tonight at the Sacred Heart College Auditorium. They obviously will be looking to gather some consistency from the players that get time on the court, particularly from the Leslies, Troyers and Nolbertos. In their last outing, they were able to overcome a 7-point fourth quarter deficit to record the 63-56 win against No Limit. It is apparent that this year’s team is not as explosive offensively as in years past; and, when coupled with a team defense that is right in the middle of the bunch, certainly bares true and validates their inconsistency as a team.

P.G. Freedom Fighters bring excitement to the Barracks again
–It was another weekend of football in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2016-2017 Closing Season regular season; and the MCC Garden, where Punta Gorda’s Freedom Fighters visited for the second Sunday in a row, had its fair share of excitement for football fans. Minus veteran star midfielder Lisbey Castillo, now focusing on basketball with the Dangriga Dream Ballers, Freedom Fighters manager, Patrick Flores has still managed to put together a splendid cast of young talent along with able veterans, Onest Martinez in defence and Franklin Polonio in goal. Most notable of the young guns on Freedom Fighters is their burly and fearless 18-year-old striker, Jarren Lambey, who was instrumental in their 2-1 win over FC Belize last Sunday. Yesterday against BDF, Jarren proved he is also a finisher, when he pounced on a small window of opportunity in close contact with outstanding BDF goalie, Tevin Gamboa, and headed in the only P.G. goal of the game, that brought the score to a worrying 2-1 margin for BDF, who were riding high on a first half 2-nil lead.

San Pedro High girls and Belmopan Compre boys are 2017 NSSSA Football Champions
The National Secondary Schools Sports Association (NSSSA) held its high school national football championships over two days, Friday and Saturday, February 17 & 18, out at San Pedro Ambergris Caye, where San Pedro High School (SPHS) hosted the tournament on the artificial turf of the newly refurbished Ambergris Stadium. And at the end of competition on Saturday, San Pedro High School girls and Belmopan Comprehensive School boys were crowned NSSSA Football Champions 2017. After respective regional football competitions, female and male champion teams from the North, Central, West and South regions of the country all converged in San Pedro and participated in a simple knockout format, with first round winners going on to play for the championship, while the losers played for third place. The girls played 20 minute halves (40 minutes regulation), with 10 minutes of overtime where necessary; while the boys played 30 minute halves (60 minutes regulation), with also 10 minutes of overtime as needed.

Former KREM News announcer Annlyn Apolonio stars at Spiez Muscle Mania
Former KREM News announcer, Annlyn Apolonio was among the cast of female and male athletes on stage at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts last Saturday night at the Spiez Muscle Mania show, where Annlyn walked away with top honors in the Open Bikini-Fitness Competition. . Relishing her victory and exuding confidence, Annlyn remarked on her facebook page on Sunday morning, “Some people have a fear of being on stage. I have a fear of coming off it.” Other 1st place winners at the event, sponsored by Spiez Pharmaceuticals Imports owner/manager Ahmad Shaw Amini, were Aurel Lewis in the Open Men’s Physique category, and Clayton Greenidge, who won the Open Men’s Bodybuilding Competition. The event was hosted by the Belize Body Building and Fitness Federation (BBBFF).

Editorial: A sick media landscape …
The equipment and technology at Channel 5 are all sparkling and state-of-the-art. Channel 5 is a member in good standing of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU). The television station is owned by a billionaire international business mogul who has been feeding off the flesh and blood of the Belizean people for more than three decades. The young Belizeans who are employees at Channel 5 are honest professionals who need their jobs in Belize’s struggling, Third World economy. There is no one to explain to these young Belizeans that they are being used to further the predatory appetites of a man whose god is money. This week the British peer summoned the lovely hostess of Channel 5’s morning talk show, who doubles as the news anchor, to Washington for her to do an “exclusive” interview with him. From what we saw on Wednesday, the “interview” was more like a sermon from on high spoken by mighty Massa himself – Lord Michael Ashcroft.

From the Publisher
I owe Pen Cayetano an explanation of what happened in 1995 or 1996 (Pen would probably have been in Germany at that time) when someone sent to buy Amandala, and there were actually negotiations held at the home of the late Emory King in Tropical Park. I have told you that when Sagis Investments came out of the woodwork in 1994 to buy 10 percent of KREM Radio, I did not know that Sagis was really Lord Michael Ashcroft. I did feel it was either he or Ralph Fonseca. I still can’t say precisely when it was I became convinced it was the British peer. In Spanish jurisdictions, as Coco Orio and I always recollect whenever we meet, limited liability companies are referred to as “sociedad anónima – S. A.” You are not supposed to know who it is or who they are in the world of money and power. By 1995, 1996, working since 1969, we had built something out of the swamp on Partridge Street which attracted the attention of big people. In 1995, 1996, Amandala and KREM Radio were being mauled by the United Democratic Party (UDP) government of Prime Minister Manuel Esquivel. The relationship between myself and Dr. Esquivel had become hostile in a personal sense, and when he returned to office in June of 1993, he sat about destroying I. The first thing that he and his people targeted was the Kremandala Raiders, semi-pro basketball champion of Belize.

Mr. Heredia, where are you when we need you?
A month ago I sent an open letter to Mr.Heredia, our UDP Caye Caulker representative, published in Amandala and Ambergris Today under the headline: “Mr.Heredia, Caye Caulker needs your help!” When Mr. Heredia did not show up for his appointment day for Caye Caulker for the third time I contacted his secretary to ask when he would be coming, who told me he was out of the country to promote Belize as a holiday destination so we could get more tourists to come to Belize. Mr. Heredia, I expressed my support for you in my last letter and believe most islanders will support you if you will work to solve the most pressing issues on our islands and especially fight the oil exploration lobby inside the GOB to protect our islands from being destroyed by the oil interests. What I hope you understand is that we have common interests but maybe have different ways to solve our problems. I wished that the GOB would be more positive when the PEOPLE are more participating in the political process relating to their social situation. GOB is obviously not happy with the engagement we islanders have, to stop our islands from getting killed by an oil spill. Neither do they understand how disappointed we are that GOB does not want to listen to the voice of the people. When the Oceana videotape with the interview with our Prime Minister came out, Oceana had to restrict the comments section because there were so many angry explicit responses! I think you know what the mood is here! We also kind of know that for you San Pedro is first and Caye Caulker is second best!

Expats Gary and Betty say Consejo Customs “leaning on them” wrongfully
Mr. Evan X Hyde, My wife and I are big fans of the Amandala and you. We have been living/retired in Belize for 3 1/2 years after several exploratory earlier visits. We finally made the big, permanent, move in 2013. And we are totally committed to spending our remaining years and meager retirement funds here in our paradise. We had a very unusual and unexpected run-in with two Customs & Immigration officers, unknown to us previously, when we returned by launch to the Consejo Customs & Immigration dock. I posted the following on Facebook with the hope of waking everybody up to the reality of what is going to happen to Belize if this kind of behavior continues on the part of that department. So here is a copy of that posting and I hope you can hear the ring of truth in it and perhaps support that perception:

Rosales excoriates Ashcroft and Courtenay
Dear Editor, Please permit me to offer my sentiments on the report made in your newspaper, the Amandala, dated Sunday, January 29, 2017 titled: “Ashcroft Goes for Belize’s Jugular”. I wish to remind Belizeans, both in Government and Opposition, that like the late Hon. Philip Goldson, who coined the words: “The time to save your country is before you lose it”; I, as a born and bred Belizean, say that our Government of the UDP, the PUP and all others who cherish our beloved patrimony of Belize should tell Michael Ashcroft that enough is enough. We are committed to pay for BTL, a company that is once again Belizean owned. However, the rich Michael Ashcroft is getting richer, sending all his riches and gains out of the country – his nest in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and now he is after not only our bread, but the crumbs as well. Ashcroft is a traitor to Belize and Belizeans, and going for our “jugular,” he is becoming treacherous and he has to be stopped.

Will Belize continue to be offered up for sale?
We’d like to begin by thanking you for your offer in selling us British Honduras. We indeed are interested in buying the territory. So we propose to you the following terms. It is from this perspective that the Puerto Azul Ponzi scheme fiasco has caused me much trepidation when I heard that the Italian con man, Domencio Giannini, who was the mastermind behind the elaborate scam, is reported to have said that he had purchased our Great Blue Hole from the Government of Belize. These gangsters have expended a huge effort in perpetrating this scam. In May of 2014 they invited 140 billionaires to a party in Cannes, France, to raise funds for this Puerto Azul 8 star resort. The cost of a ticket to the gala was US$10,000.00. There is only one 8 star resort hotel in the world, which is in Dubai Arab Emirates; their GDP is 570 billion dollars. The second 8 star resort hotel would have been in Belize: our GDP is 1.6 billion dollars – Please! Give me a break. As chairman of the British Honduras Freedom Committee of New York, I was tasked to investigate a few of these scams perpetrated on and in Belize. I will reflect on two of these which occurred in the 1970s.

The quintessential Joseph Haylock – “Barber Joe”
Before there was Pino’s, the popular Pine family barber shop on King Street, and before Jeff Scott, there was the forerunner institution located at the corner of Berkeley Street and East Canal. The legendary Joseph Haylock, popularly known as “Barber Joe,” was the quintessential elder when Belize City’s Southside had authentic neighborhoods where families lived on the same streets for generations and we were civilized toward each other. The story of Barber Joe and his small business is a narrative of what we have lost over the past few decades, much like the neighborhood “mom and pop” family grocery stores that once dotted our communities. Barber Joe began cutting hair as a young boy at St. Ignatius Primary School on Belize City’s Southside where his talent did not go unnoticed. Some of his teachers were among his first clients at the school he attended. Since there is no barber school in Belize where a student can master the trade, he learned and perfected his craft from those brave enough to volunteer for haircuts. By the time he became a young man, Joseph Haylock had established himself as one of Belize’s most celebrated and loved community barbers.

S&P lists Belize as “CreditWatch Negative” after missed $26 mil payment on superbond
The international ratings agency, Standard and Poor’s, today listed Belize as ‘CreditWatch Negative,’ after the Government of Belize missed a coupon payment of BZ$26 million due earlier this week on its US dollar bond due in 2038. “The Government of Belize failed to pay the US$13 million semiannual interest coupon due on Feb. 21, 2017, of its US$526.5 million bond due in 2038. The bond, which has a step-up interest rate, will begin accruing interest at 6.767% in August 2017 from the existing 5%,” the agency said. “The government says that it will make the payment only after reaching an agreement,” S&P added. Given the relatively high likelihood of the debt restructuring, it expects to maintain the CreditWatch as ‘negative,’ even if the government makes the payment on the coupon within the 30-day grace period, the ratings agency explained.

Schnitzer was facilitated just like Kim Wong Hong, documents show
New documents that surfaced this week show that David Nanes Schnitzer – the accused multi-million dollar fraudster who vanished into thin air after being granted bail in November 2015 – was facilitated in order to attain Belizean nationality in the same fashion as was Kim […]

Incarceration to Inspiration: Museum of Belize turns 15
A museum, traditionally is a building where collections of artifacts, art work, documents, or other tangible representations of a country’s history and culture are kept and displayed. However, when the Museum celebrated its 15th Anniversary, it was a celebration of more than just a building […]

No deductions: Easter and Summer breaks shortened
The Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) have agreed that there will be no salary deduction in exchange for teachers making up lost time. Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin handed down a perfected order on Tuesday, which came out of the court ordered […]

No new passports being printed
The Ministry of Immigration had to activate contingency operations in the passport office this week, after the passport printer stopped woking. The office confirmed that it hasn’t been able to print passports for several days, causing a back log in its already high workload. Minister of State […]

Boy stabbed to death by relative over $60
A 17-year-old boy of a Pelican Street address was fatally stabbed multiple times by his cousin on Antelope Street extension in Belize City just after midnight in early Monday morning. Police say that on Sunday February 19, around 11:40 p.m. while on patrol on Antelope street extension, […]

San Ignacio man killed while walking with wife
A 23-year-old father of one, was ambushed and murdered on Sunday night while he was walking along with his common-law-wife, through a park in San Ignacio town. Just before midnight on Sunday, San Ignacio police responded to several shots fired behind PK store. When officers arrived on […]

“John Doe” , assassinated in the West, positively identified
The body of a man, who is alleged to be a hired assassin, was discovered around 6:00 a.m. on Monday February 20 on 1st Street in San Ignacio Town. He has since been positively identified by family members as 21-year-old Chester Thueus of a Long Barracks address […]

Man chopped to death in Japan area of Ladyville
Early last Sunday morning, February 19, police discovered a badly chopped up body in the Japan area of Ladyville. Police say that acting upon information received around 7:40 a.m., officers visited the scene on Marage Road, about 100 yards from the Caribbean Shrimp Farm, where they discovered […]

“Tough times ahead,” says Chamber of Commerce
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) is calling for the Government of Belize to make drastic economic reforms to reduce the country’s Debt to GDP ratio. The BCCI made a statement this week, saying that GOB needs to implement the changes either prior […]

Belize and Mexico to strengthen cross border activities
A meeting to strengthen cross border activities between Belize and Mexico was held in Belmopan on Tuesday. The Minister of Transport, Edmond Castro met with Mexican Ambassador to Belize, H.E. Carlos Quesnel, to discuss opportunities between the two nations as they relate to cross border […]

Endemic corruption in Immigration Department
Former Immigration Finance Officer, Teresita Castellanos and Former Officer in Charge of the Nationality Section of the Department, Gordon Wade, returned to testify before the Senate Special Select Committee this week, revealing incidents of bribery, mismanagement and ministerial intervention in the Immigration and Nationality Department. […]

Eric Chang and Patrick Tillett summoned by Senate
Former Deputy Mayor of Belize City, Eric Chang, and the Council’s former Financial Controller, Patrick Tillett, may have to go before the Senate Special Select Committee and explain how they ended up with visa foils, which went missing from the Immigration and Nationality Department. Chairman […]

New laws for Belizean Cheaters
Key government agencies are urgently working to finalize a Cyber Crimes legislation after a social media group called “Belizean Cheaters” caused a massive public uproar by releasing sexually explicit photos and videos of men, women, and even children this week. The Special Envoy for Women […]

Editorial
The history of BTL, Belize’s premier telecommunication utility, is a tortuous and painful one. The idea of putting Belize Telecommunications on a firm and secure footing was conceived in 1972 under the Esquivel Government “to operate, maintain and administer the national telecommunication services and to regulate, control and plan all […]

Clock ticks on Belize Superbond default
The countdown for Belize to default on its scheduled coupon payment of the 2038 US dollar bonds (Superbond) began this week after the government failed to make a US $13.3 Million payment, which was due on Monday. On Monday, the Government of Belize announced that […]

Three found guilty of mudering elderly man
A jury of twelve have found 3 Cayo men guilty of the murder of 82-year-old James Neal/Young on Thursday, February 23rd. Young’s neighbour, Matthew Gentle, along with two other Cayo residents, Sherlock Myvett, 34, and Ricardo “Ricky” Tzul were all charged with his murder. […]

Breaking Belize NewsPJ

Santa Familia man busted with weed, gun and ammo
Yesterday afternoon around 12:50 p.m., police executed a search warrant at the residence of Robert Clifford Biro in Santa Famila Village, Cayo. The search led to discovery of 43 grams of suspected cannabis and a .38 revolver along with fourteen .38 hollow point rounds.

Cost of living up for 2017
Belizeans had to pay an average of 90 cents more for goods and services, according to the latest data released from the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB). The SIB’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the month of January showed that the All Items Index stood at 104.1, an increase from 103.2 in January 2016. The SIB said that fuel was one of the major factors for the increase, pointing out that all types of fuel were higher than they were in January 2016.

Three found guilty for killing 82-year-old man
Three men were convicted yesterday for the murder of Cayo taxi man, 82-year-old James Neal Young.The guilty men are Matthew Gentle, Sherlock Myvett and Ricardo Tzul. In 2009, the three men hired the victim and lured him to his death. He was stabbed multiples times to his […]

Belize House Speaker, new President of regional body
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Laura-Tucker-Longsworth, is scheduled to be officially inaugurated as the new President of the Forum of Presiding Officers of Legislative Assemblies of Central America and the Caribbean Basin (FOPREL). Tucker-Longsworth is currently in Managua, Nicaragua for the event. She […]

Exports rebound in 2017
After several consecutive months of underperforming, Belize’s exports increased by 51.2 percent at the beginning of 2017. The latest External Trade Bulletin released by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB) showed that exports were valued at $36.4 million, a notable $11.7 million more than […]

The Belize Old River has a lot of history.- The story of this river has changed over the Centuries
In the 1580’s the Belize River was referred by the Maya civilization as the ” RIVER TIPU “.perhaps because it led to the TIPU CITY. Later on when the Baymen Settlers, who began moving further to the interior, referred to this river as the ” RIVER OF THE BULLY’s “. Some people believe that one of the reasons for the name BULLY, was, because of the abundance of the tree called “BULLET TREE”, along this river. The Belize River has two main branches which are the MOPAN and the MACAL Rivers which meet at Branch mouth near San Ignacio & Santa Elena to form the BELIZE OLD RIVER.

Was it really worth it? Ashcroft asks
Lord Michael Ashcroft, in an interview with Channel 5 News from Washington this week, spoke on a number of issues related to the government’s current state of economic affairs and openly questioned whether or not the government’s decision was worth all the trouble Belize now faces. Ashcroft, pointing to the fact that the current administration seldom accepts blame for the current state of affairs and instead prefers to heave responsibility on administrations now three terms removed from government, called it the “dead cat” strategy. “…it’s when they’re losing, basically, the argument or the cases; you throw something else onto the fire to arouse the passions of people or the electorate,” he said.

Chamber of Commerce calls for action to save economy
The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) issued a release yesterday stating that “successive governments under both political parties have borrowed and created a massive debt burden that weighs heavy on the shoulders of every citizen of Belize.” The Chamber says that the Superbond and other firm debt obligations pose a real threat to the financial and economic stability of Belize. The Chamber also explains that serious cuts need to be made to government spending and recovering lost revenue is a must.

Ashcroft willing to settle
Michael Ashcroft is willing to settle with the Government of Belize over its multi-million dollar arbitration award. Ashcroft told Channel 5 in an exclusive interview, done in Washington D.C., that he has communicated his willingness to compromise to GOB on several instances. The government owes over US $22 million in arbitration awards, after it lost the case of BCB holding and the Belize Bank Limited v. The Government of Belize.

Supa G denied entry into US
Belizean Punta Rock superstar, Supa G, was denied entry into the United States yesterday because he told US authorities that he had performed in that country using his tourist visa. Supa G has confirmed the incident but has not shared further details.

Barrow’s law firm holds shares in Ashcroft’s Belize Bank
This week, Lord Michael Ashcroft confirmed that Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s Law firm, Barrow and Williams, owns shares in Belize Bank. Ashcroft, in an exclusive interview with Channel 5, said that Barrow’s firm has been a shareholder for many years, and still represents the bank to this day. Ashcroft went on to say that he feels the shares are so insignificant, that Barrow’s political opponents should not use that fact against him.

Fatal road traffic accident on Santa Rosa Road, Southern Belize leaves one dead
A fatal road traffic accident on Santa Rosa Road in Stann Creek District has left one dead. According to reports, the accident happened around 4:54 this morning and the victim died on the spot.

Blogs

Yoga is an adventure – come play at Ak’Bol
At the end of a dock, there is a thatched structure overlooking some of the bluest water imaginable. Under the shade, a group of people transition from one position to the other, the soothing sound of their instructor’s voice leading them. The objective? To center themselves…to relax…meditate…reflect…or simply get their daily stretch on. This is yoga at Ak’Bol. It is the quintessential Caribbean experience: lapping waves, blowing breeze, the scent of salt air at each inhale. Even Maya the dog has her moves down pat! Open since 2008, Ak’bol Yoga Retreat has been offering yoga classes to visitors and residents alike. Owner Kirsten Miglio leads the classes; her students following her guidance and gentle teaching methods. She accommodates beginners through advanced yoga practitioners, happy to share the joy and adventure of yoga. Yes, yoga is an adventure! There are so many styles and variations! Having tried yoga myself, I can attest to how HARD it can be to slow down and breathe deeply. Sure, we live on an island, and enjoy sunny skies, lovely sea breeze, warm Caribbean waters, but we also work, and in my case, there is always a deadline. The first time I had to slow down during yoga, I realized just how shallow my breathing is.

My Day In San Pedro, Belize: Banana Juice, Glowing Horizons and No Plastic Bags?
Yesterday I covered San Pedro town from north to south and then back again. It was a provisioning day – tons of errands to stock “the camp” for the next set of guests. It was also a GORGEOUS cloudless low humidity gem of a day…a few times a year sort of day. A day when the sea is so smooth and clear that it was almost absurd to be on land. A trip to the Blue Hole would have been a DREAM! Each and every one of us should have been in the water. Camp needs everything from pineapples (one store) and bacon (another shop) for breakfast to diesel to fuel the back-up generator. I had some Scoop errands as well. Things were always easy. After months of gorgeous cauliflower and broccoli, there is none. Fish fillet is almost impossible to find. Sigh. Island life. One cannot dwell on the negative but instead focus on the mission – and keeping one’s self fueled during the process. So here are a few of my stops around Ambergris Caye. First stop was breakfast at Neri’s Tacos. Even at 11am, it’s hopping. No waiting on line, you must just move up to the counter and give your order to anyone inside that makes eye contact with you.

Better Than Home, A Review of Athens Gate Resort in Belize
Dreaming of an ocean getaway, but hate the crowds? Athens Gate Resort in Belize might be what you’re after. Located just a few miles south of San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye, this TripAdvisor favorite boutique beach resort is a quiet place with a ton of hidden gems. We recently had the chance to stay and review Athens Gate Resort Belize for ourselves and, to be honest, we had a great time. For one, this unassuming boutique hotel features huge suites with some of the most well stocked kitchens I’ve ever seen in a hotel. Featuring a dishwasher and all stainless steel appliances, when you factor in it also included a full washer and dryer, roughing it in Belize takes on a whole new meaning.

Wildtracks...The Return of the Kat!
Many moons ago, possibly twelve years ago, I first visited Wildtracks as a naïve, fresh-faced volunteer and got the chance to stay. For two years, Wildtracks became my place of work, Sarteneja my home, the cenote my bath, the jungle my playground, the volunteers my family, and Paul and Zoe my voice of reason! I left and continued with my life, in a roundabout way. However, in November 2016 I had an epiphany and returned for a flying visit. I was welcomed back and ridiculed as if I had never left. During my first stint at Wildtracks, volunteers at the farm would share time in Fireburn Reserve, mapping, doing wildlife transects, camera trap maintenance, clearing the Mayan ruin site and teaching at the village school. Others would work with the manatees (one manatee at a time mind!), 24 hour feeding and observation schedules, and caring for all manner of other wildlife that found its way to our door. University students and project groups would visit, gap year groups would set up camp, local volunteers and school classes would come and see what we were doing, life was never quiet! Those were the days when evening drinks on the jetty were spent dreaming about building permanent manatee pools and reintroducing howler monkeys to Fireburn Reserve.

“Cuba” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize -Part Three.
Feeling my age – I try to fight it but sometimes it just gets the better of me – I suggested to Rose that it might, perhaps, be a good idea to eat at the hotel for our first night. Rose, who it was patently obvious to see, was nowhere near as bushed as me, agreed. So, after a shower and change of clothes we headed downstairs with the knowledge that we had 4 options to choose from ranging from fine dining at Comedor del Agular to light meals and snacks at Cafeteria “Film Corner”. The maitre d’ at the La Veranda – here they serve a buffet of international and Cuban cuisine – made our mind up for us. “What’s the price”, Rose enquired (she can be so nosy at times!). “Twenty-five CUC”, the maitre d’ responded. “But tonight, for you, it’s a special price, twenty CUC”. We asked (well Rose did actually) if it would be OK to have a look to see what was on offer. He affirmed this would be OK. So we did. Have a look at the food, that is.

“Cuba” from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize -Part Four.
After showering on the Thursday morning of our trip to Havana, Cuba Rose noticed quite a lot of water on the floor of the bathroom. And it didn’t come from me splashing around in the shower. A look around the room and she saw the origin. A leaky pipe. We went down for breakfast and after finishing this we went straight to Reception to report the problem. The lady behind the desk appeared very concerned and when Rose showed her the photo she had taken (now I would never have thought of doing that) she exclaimed “You cannot stay there. You must move. Is that OK?”. “Yes” we replied in unison. So she checked the available rooms and handed us new key cards. We were moving from the 5th to the 7th floor. And to a much, much better room. And a Caribbean Sea facing one at that. We unpacked our suitcases (again) but before heading out for the day took time out to check on Ziggy. Pampered Paws -where Ziggy was staying whilst we were away- posts photos of the “guests”and they’d posted a couple of our boy.

Where the Maya Performed Human Sacrifices
There is a cave in Belize where you can see the remains of ancient Maya human sacrifices. The unique geology of Belize includes a thick layer of limestone perfect for the creation of caves both small and large. Located far from the popular tourist attractions in the middle of thick jungle, Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave is one of the most interesting historical discoveries ever made in Belize. Abandoned before the arrival of Europeans, the cave lay undisturbed for more than a millennia until it was rediscovered in 1989. The only way to enter this cave is by swimming across a crystal clear spring-fed pool. From there, intrepid travelers must make their way half a mile up a shallow river until the cave opens up into an enormous labyrinth with soaring caverns replete with glittering stalactites and stalagmites. Those who dare to enter this sacred space can marvel at the wealth of ceremonial ceramics on display as well as an enormous altar that gave the cave one of its many nicknames. But it is what lies even further deeper into the cave that entices brave travelers to make their way past gigantic car-sized boulders. After scampering up slippery ledges, visitors can see skeletons of the men, women, and children sacrificed more than 1,000 years ago by ancient Maya priests. Normally, the Maya offered grains and other foodstuffs to their gods, but a combination of failing crops, constant warfare, and civil unrest between 800-900 AD forced the Maya to make the ultimate sacrifice: human life.

Belize: A True Melting Pot Society
When it comes to Belize, many people think of the offshore islands replete with palm trees or the incredible diversity of colorful wildlife on the mainland. But one of the best reasons to visit Belize on your vacation is to experience the different cultures in the country. Thanks to the long centuries of British rule, English is the official language of Belize, but don't be surprised to hear a medley of different languages as you travel up and down the country, including Spanish, Mayan dialects, Garifuna, Plattdeutsch (an old-world dialect of German), Chinese, and Kriol. Many different ethnic groups have immigrated to the country over the past two centuries, adding their unique languages to the mix of tongues spoken in Belize. The ancient Maya civilization that built the soaring pyramids and majestic temples that are some of the top attractions in Belize were in decline before the arrival of the Europeans. But select groups of Maya managed to survive the cultural and societal changes that followed Columbus's visit, preserving their ancient traditions of song, dance, music, and food. The largest ethnic group in Belize is the Creoles (sometimes spelled Kriols), descended from enslaved Africans imported into the region by the British during the colonial era. Today, the Kriol speak a unique dialect that adds color and Caribbean flavor to standard English.

MY Favourite Eats Around The Yucatan Peninsula
These are MY favourite eats, I’m not claiming they’re the best or that I’ve tried every single restaurant in the peninsula, just that these are meals or restaurants I’ve particularly enjoyed. If you get a chance, I highly recommend you try them but I don’t pretend for one second that this is an exhaustive list of good restaurants in the area. Merida: this is a real, big city with a multitude of choices. From the teeny tiny ‘I serve tacos from my house on Fridays’ to international fare, there is everything you could wish for. My favourite brunch spot has to be Roses and Xocolate on Paseo Montejo. This small boutique hotel has an incredible egg menu that includes an amazing poached eggs with a pumpkin sauce that makes my taste buds tingle just thinking about it. Coffee is unlimited. In Tulum we fell in love with Pizza Manglar, an incredible restaurant just off the main road in town. Every pizza is 100 pesos and will feed two people. Try chaya and pineapple for a taste explosion. If you’re nice to the staff then your meal may well end with a free tequilla shot!

5th Annual Anniversary Grand Cultural Presentation; The burning of the Juan Carnaval 2017
The Corozal House of Culture has recently been on this news featuring the “Back in the Days” exhibit among many others. Well, today they are once again in our blog, but this time, for an event that has almost been forgotten. The Corozal House of Culture presented an almost forgotten event titled “Juan Carnaval.” This is because the tradition of Juan Carnaval has been hidden for quite some time now and the House of Culture has tasked themselves to revive this celebration, hoping that it remains an annual event. Director of the Corozal House of Culture Deborah Wilkes, mentioned that this event was a combination of two events at once. The 5th Annual Cultural presentation and the Juan Carnaval. Sponsors where made possible by: Atlantic Bank, COLCHA, Crystal, Service to all Corozal Town. The presentation included a number of 17 dances, skits, poem, dance group, comparsas and more. Opening Ceremony was Invocation by Pastor Lyndon Su Therland, National Anthem, Welcome address by Ms. Debra Wilkes, Coordinator CHOC, Stakeholders recognized by Atlantic bank, B@B, CTC, COLCHA and Minister of Pablo Marin.

International Sourcesizz

Second largest Maya jade found in Belize has unique historical inscription
To say that UC San Diego archaeologist Geoffrey Braswell was surprised to discover a precious jewel in Nim Li Punit in southern Belize is something of an understatement. "It was like finding the Hope Diamond in Peoria instead of New York," said Braswell, who led the dig that uncovered a large piece of carved jade once belonging to an ancient Maya king. "We would expect something like it in one of the big cities of the Maya world. Instead, here it was, far from the center," he said. The jewel—a jade pendant worn on a king's chest during key religious ceremonies—was first unearthed in 2015. It is now housed at the Central Bank of Belize, along with other national treasures. Braswell recently published a paper in the Cambridge University journal Ancient Mesoamerica detailing the jewel's significance. A second paper, in the Journal of Field Archaeology, describes the excavations.

Tourism is vital to the Caribbean economy
“Tourism is a vital sector to the economies of member states.” So said Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government in the communiqué that followed their recent inter-sessional meeting in Georgetown, Guyana. Taken at face value the statement is unremarkable, even obvious; but the language chosen, its inclusion, and the recommendations made in relation to the challenges the industry faces, suggest that tourism’s significance to the region’s long term economic growth and stability has at last been formally recognised. Tourism is a sector that has rarely been discussed in depth at the highest political levels of CARICOM. There are many cultural and other reasons why, but over many years much greater importance has been given to industries that are in terminal decline and globally uncompetitive.

Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards Nominations
The Caribbean Tourism Organization's Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards are aimed at identifying and showcasing Sustainable Tourism Good Practices in the Caribbean. The awards recognize individuals, groups, organizations or companies in any of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Member Countries which have developed responsible and unique tourism products or are engaged with implementing sustainable tourism-related initiatives which embrace sustainable tourism concepts and core values. These initiatives should also help to enhance the country's tourism product offerings and advance sustainable and responsible tourism in the Caribbean.

Videos

  • FCS Belize Missions Trip 2016, 4.5min.

  • Starfish Island, Belize - Walk around, 8min. A walk around Starfish Island off the cost of Belize. Carnival Sunshine Cruise excursion.

  • I Am the Belize River, 1.5min. The 20th annual La Ruta Maya is just 1 week away, and the Department of the Environment made a breathtaking video highlighting the Belize River. The Belize River is life, and it needs to be taken care of. Thanks, DoE!

  • Nate Marquardt shares message with Prevail Combat Club in Belize, 11min. Nate Marquardt is not only a UFC fighter but also a Christian, watch as he shares a message with a group of young athletes in Belize, C.A.

  • Miss Belize receives key to Twin Towns, 2min.

  • Calypso Train Tour of Belize City, 1.5min.

  • Miss Belize, Rebecca Rath, 4min. on PlusTV

  • Baby Howler Monkey sent to WildTracks, 15sec. A baby Howler Monkey was brought to our attention by some young men. There were no injuries and she was in no distress. She stayed with us for a few hours until we could transfer her to WildTracks - the ideal caregivers for this little orphan. She'll grow-up with other Howlers of the same age. Once' grown and has learned how to care for herself, she'll return to the wild where she belongs.

  • Zenaida Moya Show Episode 11, 2hr.

  • CHARLES GOFF: BELIZE'S MOST DOMINANT BASKETBALL CENTER!, 35min. Belizean 1960s, 70s and 80s basketball has seen many a big man come through the middle on a Belizean basketball court, but through the lens of many a Belizean sports enthusiast, Belizean basketball center of the 1970s basketball great team "Wheels", Charles Goff, had made a serious impact on Belize's basketball landscape. Depending on which way you want to look at it, Goff dominated the center as one of Belize's most domineering big men, under considerably pressure and opposition from others like J.J. Lynch and Emile Grinage of the legendary Belize basketball team Happy Home Builders. In our Belizean Legends interview with Goff last year, he remembered how it was when he was a novice under the shadows of the towering Wilton "Cama" Cumberbatch who at that time stood more than six feet tall and who taught him many basics in terms of how to dominate in the center. But Goff reflected that he had to wait his turn as a junior member of Cama's team at that time. "I really was getting tired of just sitting on the bench", said Goff. "But as soon as I got my chance to play I worked hard on becoming better at the game all the time."

  • Driving through the not so sleepy village of Caye Caulker., 2.5min. Driving thru yesterday at sundown, the not so sleepy village of Caye Caulker.

  • AN UNBEARABLE STENCH ON SLAUGHTER HOUSE STREET RESIDENTS CLAMOUR FOR HELP, 7.5min.

  • Flashback & Exercise, 30min.

  • Grace & You - Courts Dia wrap & Morning bullet, 34min.

  • Musical Guest - Nello Player, 33min.

  • Interview with Lord Michael Ashcroft (February, 2017), 60min.

  • Belize Wins (Beach Football), 6min.

  • , 3.5min. We visited Ocean Academy - in Caye Caulker, Belize - to learn about some of the awesome things they're doing for the island's kids... Daya and Anthony showed talented film maker Ryan Chapman the island through their eyes on an amazing Bike With Purpose trip. We invite you to learn more about Student-Led Social Enterprises at Ocean Academy!

  • Belize NOW Episode 11 - Friday, February 24th, 2017, 32min. Belize’s CARICOM Ambassador discusses CARICOM 28th Inter-Sessional Meeting, Minister of Agriculture tours Spanish Lookout and Ministry of Health addresses prevalence of childhood obesity in Belize. These stories and more on this week’s edition of Belize Now.

  • Sarteneja Fishermen Association supports Lionfish Jewelry Ladies, 1min. The Sarteneja Fishermen Association is proud to have been able to support the Belize Lionfish Jewelry Ladies this past year. We encourage you to continue with the great work: - United women, empowered communities, and a healthy, beautiful reef - "BELIONESS." Many Thanks to the Protected Areas Conservation Trust for their valuable contribution towards this initiative from its very beginning.

  • Belize Eels, 2min. Short clip of free swimming green moray in Belize

  • Snorkeling in Belize (Goffs Caye), 1min. Great time in Belize short stay because of cruise trip we were just there doing port hours . Here we were about a mile and a half from shore where we swam back . What a blast !!

  • Caves Branch, Belize + San Pedro Scuba Diving, 3.5min. 7 mile cave tubing, two waterfall cave hike, 300 foot rappel, and scuba diving in Belize.

  • CAVE TUBING//MYAN RUINS//Belize Trip Day 3, 6min.

  • Drive from Placencia Village to The Placencia Resort in a Vanagon in Belize, 23min. Ken and LaDawn drive an 87 Wolfsburg Edition VW Vanagon from Placencia Village back to The Placencia Resort and Residences. It is about a 20 minute trip, but it will give you an idea of what the area is like and what driving a Vanagon is like in Belize.

  • #521951 - 02/25/17 06:50 AM Re: Today's Belize News: February 25, 2017 [Re: Marty]  
    Joined: Oct 1999
    Posts: 56,721
    Marty Offline
    Marty  Offline

    Issue #34 of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online here!.

    WEED CONTROL PROGRAM FOR PASTURES
    Weeds have been known to compete with crops for water, light, space and soil nutrients (J.D.Green et al 2006) thus reducing production. According to Penn State Extension Agronomy Facts 62, Weeds can be classified into three main groups (3). Annuals1, these complete their life cycle within a year and reproduce only by seeds. Biennial2 weeds live during two growing seasons (2 years) and reproduce only by seeds also. Perennial3 weeds live for more than two (2) years and reproduce by vegetative structure and seeds. A trial was conducted to control weeds in pastures at Spanish Lookout, Cayo District, Belize C.A. from the 10th August to the 12th September 2016 in collaboration with Mr. Art Plett. OBJECTIVE: 1. Evaluate herbicide mixture to control both annual and perennial weeds. 2. Develop a cost per acre analysis. 3. Evaluate weed control after eight (8) days of application. 4. Re-entry period for animal grazing.

    Feasting in the Wake of Destruction Meals Prepared By Earl
    Many of the trials and seeming disasters we experience can actually yield valuable fruits in our lives, for example, patience and wisdom. However, this spiritual principle is much easier to state in words than to live out in reality when we face disappointments of life. Our recent experience with Hurricane Earl reminded us of this truth and helped us to consider it, on a very small scale, for the storm did not damage anything truly important to us: our lives, the lives of our loved ones, or even significant amounts of property. We were thankful that God spared Belize reasonably well. As on many Belizean plantations, Hurricane Earl uprooted a few trees and banana plants at our place, and brought an abrupt end to the mango harvest, blowing down most of the immature mangoes. Our corn crop, like most of the neighbors, was mostly flattened; however, two months later, we were amazed to see how the corn continued to mature and produced a surprisingly good harvest, praise to God. Just after the storm we of little faith felt quite dejected when we saw some stalks were completely broken off. I brought the baby cobs home to use whole as a vegetable. Sliced into attractive “stars” and combined with thin slices of baby green bananas from broken off banana stalks they made a nice curry. I called it Hurricane Curry.

    TO THE EDITOR
    According to the Mennonites and some Belizeans that live in the Barton Creek area hunters are responsible for decades of destructive fires that have been set there. They set fires so they can come back a few weeks later and easily see and shoot animals. After the tall tiger fern is burnt off young grass sprouts appear and some animals enjoy eating them. To help solve this apparently country-wide problem the government needs to change the laws so penalties are severe for trespassing and arson. Then these very ignorant people may think twice about going on other people’s land and setting fires. Perhaps the threat of a 10 year prison sentence would go a long way to help stop all the illegal logging as well. This year a fire was set on the other side of Barton Creek directly across from our property. It was so dry that a spark from it ignited the trees beside the creek on our side. It burned about 2000 square feet and killed all the young trees. Had it been drier one foolish person’s criminal actions could have destroyed an entire forest along a beautiful creek.

    Going Biological: Large-Scale Carbon-Smart Corn, Down the Wormhole
    By David Yarrow. At the end of 2015 I talked to Missouri bootheel farmer David “JR” Bollinger about his experiences growing corn, soybeans and milo using carbonsmart farming principles and practices. In his first year fully committed to biological agriculture, Bollinger cut conventional fertilizers by 50 percent and applied blends of biocarbons, minerals and microbes. Soils, plants and yields are all showing positive results. Bollinger is the fourth generation to farm on 3,500 acres in the southeast Missouri Delta, with the family’s main crops being corn, soybeans, wheat and milo.

    Agricultural Sector Damages from Hurricane Earl
    Overall, 1200 Farmers were directly affected by Hurricane Earl which ripped through Belize overnight August 3 and into the next day. The information below reflects only actual produce lost in the producing stage (does not include future losses anticipated from out-of-season fruit trees), using farm-gate prices unless otherwise specified. Additionally some losses of infrastructure are detailed. All prices are in Bz dollars. Citrus: Losses in Stann Creek and Cayo districts were mainly due to fruit drop, tree loss and damages to housing and other farm infrastuctures. Of the 38,000 acres in citrus production, fruit loss amounted to 641,654 boxes of fruit (519,731 boxes of oranges valued at $11,634,700; 121,923 boxes of grapefruit valued at $1,791,166) for an estimated total fruit loss of $13,425,861. Tree losses for oranges:12,556 trees valued at $35 per tree, amounted to $439,460. Tree losses for grapefruit: 1,156 trees valued at $40 per tree, totaled $46,240. Total tree loss was $439,460. Total immediate citrus loss was $13,911,566. Additional future fruit drop is anticipated as a delayed response to the wind damage and foliar loss to the trees.

    Macro-economic Effects of Hurricane Earl
    The national production of yellow corn was 146,385,913 pounds for 2014 and 135,043,110 for 2015. Approximately 53,000 acres of corn are planted on a yearly basis (mechanized plus milpa); from this total 26,674.5 acres or 120 M lbs equal to $34,998,802 were reported as a loss due to the hurricane. The losses in corn will trigger a ripple effect on the wider economy in terms of loss in foreign exchange due to a decrease in exports and feed for the industries of poultry, swine and cattle. As a result of the losses, an increase in corn prices and increase in by-products, for example, the price of meats, is expected. Corn is a staple crop considered a main contributor to food security.

    Tomatillos...The Taste of Mexico By Jenny Wildman
    I was when I first heard that some of my favorite vegetables, potatoes, aubergines (eggplant), tomatoes, and all peppers are part of the extensive nightshade family, Solanaceae, most of which can be toxic to humans. As children we were taught to avoid the pernicious deadly nightshade (Bella Donna) and thinking of anything as mildly related was somewhat unnerving. This is the plant dwale that contains poisonous alkaloids responsible for witches flying, murder and mayhem, delirium and death. Yet it was historically an important ingredient in medicine and still today is used in some pharmaceuticals. One branch of the nightshade family is Physalis which translated means bladder, as their common characteristic is the fruit being encased in a papery husk (the calyx). Some are ornamental as with Physalis alkekengi, the bright orange Chinese lantern. Others like Physalis peruviana, Cape gooseberry, ground cherry or golden berry, are both decorative and edible and affectionately called “love in a cage.” The tomatillo (little tomato) Physalis philadelphicaor or Physalis ixocarpa is an essential ingredient to Mexican and Guatemalan cooking best known for salsa verde which graces every table.


    Onions, Sheep, and Honey: A Winning Combination
    By Sergio Omar Gomez. In an effort to minimize the economic impact to northern Belizean farmers by the loss of their preferential sugarcane market, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture launched a 30 month project in January 2015. The project, “Promoting Agri- business Development in Northern Belize” has been funded by the European Union. The economic diversification into growing onions, raising sheep, and making honey encompasses micro, small and medium enterprises in northern Belize. The three- pronged approach is aimed at reducing poverty and improving livelihood opportunities for the rural population in Corozal and Orange Walk and includes 150 onion producers, 100 beekeepers and 100 sheep farmers. Dr. Jerome Thomas, FAO Representative in Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize says that the farmers who are being exposed to the value chain approach are learning about all the stakeholders that operate within the industry from input suppliers to the final market consumers.

    Industrial Hemp Medicine for the Soil
    By Karin Westdyk. Since the 1800s people traveled for miles to a dairy farm in Taranto Italy. It was famous for producing some of the best cheeses and dairy products in the country. But in 2008 the farm was ordered to destroy all its animals because tests showed that they were no longer fit for human consumption. They were contaminated with nickel, lead and other toxic substances emitted from a nearby steel mill. Farmer Vincenzo Fornaro had to decide whether to abandon his farm or stay. He decided to stay and face the huge task of cleaning his soil. After much research, he gained permission to plant industrial hemp to absorb the toxic substances from the soil and neutralize them. Other farmers followed suit and today there are over 100 farmers in the area planting hemp to clean up their land. The planting of industrial hemp in the region has also brought new investments to the area.The first hemp processing plant in southern Italy transforms the hemp used to clean the soil into fiber to make shoes, bags, clothing and construction materials.

    World Food Day
    By Gary Ramirez. On 16 October 1945, 42 countries assembled in Quebec, Canada, to create the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Their goal was to free humanity from hunger and malnutrition, and to effectively manage the global food. FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on 16 October to commemorate the founding of the organization in 1945. Events are organized in over 150 countries across the world, making it one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar. These events promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. In Belize, World Food Day activities are coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with its partners in development such as Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) etc. Planning and preparation for the event is usually coordinated by the World Food Day committee and the one day fair is held typically on the campus of a selected high school or educational institution. In recent years, the event was hosted by Independence High School in Independence village (2013), ITVET Belize City (2014), Mopan Technical High School in Benque Viejo Del Carmen (2015).

    BEL-CAR Updates
    Following 2 years with challenging drought conditions, western Belize’s prospective 2016 corn harvests on roughly 30,000 acres looked bright with expectations for restoration of prior corn inventories which had enabled regular exports. Hurricane Earl’s arrival, on August 3rd dashed those plans. The biggest surprise of the storm was that the winds which hit the coast at 60-80 mph and normally decrease as they pass over land, apparently gained strength. Several Spanish Lookout farmers felt that winds on their farms exceeded 100 mph. The Spanish Lookout Community Office shortly after the storm estimated an approximately Bz$20 M loss in row crops. Barton Ramie, the most fertile belt in Spanish Lookout along the Belize River, was 40% flooded and what was not flooded was wind damaged. At Kitty Bank an even higher percentage of cropland was flooded. When flooding is brief (less than 5 or 6 hours), the corn quality is likely reduced to #2, but is still usable for animal feed. Corn underwater longer is not salvageable. Corn planted along the Sibun River, close to the former Hummingbird Hershey operation, were some of the first planted and were close to harvest time when the storm hit. Corn there which was knocked down remained down resulting in a stretched out harvest time from the normal 4 days to over 2 weeks. Expected yields of over 50-60 bags/acre were cut in half. By mid-October, Bel-Car’s estimate of western corn loss was about 50% - including quantitative and quality losses.

    Spanish Lookout Community Office on Poultry
    The Spanish Lookout Community Office reported at least 12 poultry barns, all newer buildings, lost their roofs. They attributed the losses on newer buildings to the nails going into the boards holding the rafters which accumulated rust over time resulting in an adhesive effect. Also, many roofs were constructed with nails rather than screws. On the Sunday following Earl, a small narrow tornado passed through some of Spanish Lookout, popping roof screws again, and in at least one case picking up and smashing a sheep barn through a wall. For the chickens inside the poultry barns, young chicks suffered the highest losses. In some cases where the roof remained, horizontal rain and cold temperatures created a fatal combination for birds without full feathers.

    History of John Deere
    By Julian Thiessen. The humble beginnings of John Deere, the leading manufacturer in the agricultural industry, date back to the early 1800’s. According to Brittanica, 2015, John Deere, the founder of the company, was born in 1804, in Vermont, and became an apprentice to a blacksmith at a very young age. He was a hard worker and known as a perfectionist. He once stated, “I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me” Eventually he opened up his own blacksmith shop; however to find more income to provide for his family he left Vermont and settled in Illinois where he did repairs as a blacksmith for the local pioneers.

    Birds of Belize: The Art of Taxidermy Exhibit
    By Dr. Stephen zitzer and Dalena Lesson. The Belize National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) in collaboration with Dr. Stephen zitzer launched an exhibit at the San Ignacio/Santa Elena House of Culture on Friday evening October 7, 2016 titled Birds of Belize and the Art of Taxidermy. The exhibit displays 30 plus bird species native to Belize that were provided by various official Belizean wildlife conservation, protection, healthcare and rehabilitation agencies in cooperation with the Belize Department of Forestry. Dr. zitzer did all the skinning, stuffing and posing of the specimens, most of which were victims of collisions with vehicles; many died of unknown causes and several were known to have been shot. Additionally, Dr. zitzer has a permit with the Belize Department of Forestry to legally collect dead animals and to perform taxidermy, but not to collect or kill live specimens. Except for a limited season for a few relatively large game bird species including ocellated turkeys and chachalacas, all birds in Belize are protected including all the species in the exhibit. The exhibit has a relatively high percentage of species of birds of prey, including nocturnal (active at night) species dominated by owls and diurnal (active in the day) species that includes hawks, falcons, forest- falcons and fish eagles or ospreys. However, their dominance in the exhibit is correlated with the fact that these birds are much more visible and recognizable when they are injured, but the fact they are often hit by vehicles does contribute to the record of their distribution in Belize.

    Presentation on Glyphosate to Pesticide Control Board Registration Committee
    As a first step in the newly developed policy and procedures for re-registration of pesticides, the August meeting of the Pesticide Control Board Registration Committee (PCBRC) was a session to hear presentations by two groups of petitioners who are recommending a ban on glyphosate. The first group represented six organizations: Sustainable Harvest International (SHI)– Belize, Plenty Belize(PB) and Belize Organic Family Farming (BOFF), Belize Botanic Gardens (BBG), Pro Organic Belize (POB) and Belize Wellness Institute )BWI); the second presentation represented Southeast Watershed Alliance Group (SWAG).

    Successful Cattle Auction at Iguana Creek, Spanish Lookout
    By Cornie Friesen of JF Brahman Ranch. JF Brahman and KR Ranch jointly hosted a cattle auction at the roadside cattle facilities of Joe Friesen Jr in Iguana Creek, Spanish Lookout on September 10th. Fifty-seven individuals registered to bid on the livestock. The cattle were sold to 16 different buyers coming from Spanish Lookout, Hummingbird Highway areas, and Lower Barton Creek. Fifteen Brahman breeding bulls were sold, bringing an average of $3,833 (3.25 /lb) per bull. The top selling bull, from Menno Reimer’s KR Ranch brought $5,400. Seven Brahman breeding heifers (pregnant) were sold at an average of $2,130 (2.15 /lb), and the top price heifer was sold by HD Ranch (Glen Dueck). JF Brahman (Cornie Friesen) sold 8 bulls averaging $4,038 with their highest price being $4,800.

    Necessity: The Mother of Invention: Corn Reels in Spanish Lookout
    When Hurricane Earl belted across the corn fields of Belize it flattened much of the corn. The farmers in Spanish Lookout, using their combines for harvesting the corn, had serious problems: the combines could not pick up all the corn and the corn clogged the machinery. Daniel Koop, mechanical engineer/entrepreneur to the rescue! Using an existing design concept he fabricated a corn reel to mount on top of the combine header. The corn reel looks like a giant three-dimensional comb with three rows of “teeth” made of round steel tubing that assist the header with picking up and feeding the corn into the combine. The corn reel can be turned on and off with the flick of a switch by the combine driver as required; it is hydraulically driven. It can be raised and lowered during operation or lifted up and out of the way when its function is not needed. Daniel didn’t have much time, but his ten busy employees fabricated 11 corn reels, outfitting a third of the combines in Spanish Lookout.

    Cassava and Belizean Food Security
    By Johnathan Canton and Gilbert Canton Jr. Can you imagine driving along one of our major highways and seeing “large tracts of cassava being planted and harvested? Large cassava trucks lined up outside of a cassava factory waiting to be unloaded? The cassava factory producing intermediate and final products, and distribution trucks busily being loaded to deliver products to supermarkets and other cassava consumption points?” This is precisely what Deep Ford, the regional coordinator of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for the Caribbean, asked the attendants of the 2014 Regional Conference on Cassava in the Caribbean and Latin America to envision. For many of us this might sound familiar. Indeed, we have seen similar sights associated with the sugar, banana and citrus industries in Belize. So why is there a sudden interest in cassava? The answer to that question first requires consideration of Belize’s recent trade statistics. In the last decade our import bill has risen approximately 70% to nearly 2 billion Belizean dollars. In comparison, our export earnings are almost four times lower at roughly half a billion Belizean dollars. These alarming figures are not unique to Belize but represent a regional trend in the Caribbean. In fact, according to the FAO, half of the countries in the Caribbean region import greater than 80% of the food consumed.

    Belize Orchid Diversity
    By Dr. Stephen Zitzer. Belize is home for more than 300 species of orchid including the national flower of Belize, the black orchid (Prosthecea cochleata); many species live in all districts of Belize. The checklist of the vascular plants of Belize, published in 2000, lists 279 species of orchid second to the Fabaceae, or legume family, with 295 species found in Belize. More recently the Guide to the Orchids of Belize by Sayers and Adams, published in 2009 by the Belize Botanical Garden, lists 312 species of orchid including Pleurothallis duplooyi, an apparently endemic species, or one that is currently known to occur only in Belize. There is little doubt the list will continue to grow as more plant surveys are conducted in Belize and the existing species genetic relationship are studied and clarified. Worldwide the orchid family contains between 25,000-30,000 species and is one of the largest plant families on the planet occurring in almost every terrestrial habitat. They are most commonly found growing on trees along with other epiphytic plants, but some species grow on rocks, called lithophytes and many others in soils. Orchids are among the most evolutionarily advanced of plant families, having remarkable specializations for pollination, water uptake and storage, and associations with specific species of fungi and ants for nutritional needs and seed germination.

    The History of Vanilla in Ancient Maya Culture
    By Dawn Dean. Vanilla flourished wild in the damp shade of Central America’s lowland forests long before humans discovered its tantalizing aroma and undertook its cultivation. It’s possible that the plethora of seemingly wild vanilla found today in southern Belize is vestigial, left behind by the Manche Chol Maya. Before we get going, it’s important to know that 500 years ago, a good cup of chocolate included not only cacao, but also annatto and vanilla. (But no sugar!) Now let’s start with a bit of history. Herman Cortes traversed Chol territory in 1525, cutting across what is now the southwest corner of Belize, at the end of a journey from the southern part of what is now the state of Veracruz on the gulf coast of Mexico. His chronicle of the entrada, a lengthy letter to Emperor Charles V, includes several references to the cacao he came across in the region. Cortes was well aware of the value placed on cacao by the indigenous peoples he encountered on his travels, having noted in an earlier letter to Charles V that “they use it as money throughout the land and with it buy all they need”. He had no idea, however, of the role that cacao would play, together with vanilla and annatto, in sustaining the local economy as the Spanish vied for domination of the Southern Maya Lowlands.

    Marco Figueroa Speaks at POB
    POB was fortunate to have cacao expert, Marco Figueroa as the speaker at their monthly meeting on 6th September at Maya Mountain Lodge, Santa Elena, Cayo District. A native of San Ignacio, Marco attended the Universidad de zamorano University in Honduras. Marco started in the cacao industry in the 80’s with Hummingbird Hershey as Research Manager. Over the decades, Marco has worked for GOB at NARMAP, Programme for Belize, Belize Enterprise for Sustained Technology (BEST), and has managed a cacao operation in Costa Rica. In 2015 he retired after 11 years as the technical advisor for the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) and now works at his own diversified farm in the outskirts of San Ignacio when not traveling internationally as a cacao consultant. Although Toledo is best known for its cacao industry, Marco revealed that there are a few areas in Stann Creek, Cayo and even Orange Walk Districts which are also suitable for growing cacao. Theobroma cacao is very particular as to its needs. Almost all the commercial groves are Theobroma cacao trinitario. T. cacao criollo is the Belizean native species which is increasingly rare today as it is very fragile and susceptible to disease. The criollo was crossed with the South American forestero many years ago to create the more hardy trinitario. About 700 cacao trees, 800 plantain and 136 timber trees fit nicely per hectare and give the cacao a desirable 50% “sprinkle” of sunlight.

    Ecological Farming
    By Taylor Walker. There is a lot of talk these days regarding global climate change, soil loss, and desertification. We as farmers, gardeners, and stewards of the earth can play a major role in slowing and even reversing these catastrophic trends. Thankfully there are many solutions at hand if we use thoughtful techniques and look to the natural environment for ideas and answers. In nature plants do not grow only in one plane but grow in all dimensions. Most natural terrestrial ecosystems consist of many different species of plants and plant types. Ground covers, vines, herbs, shrubs, understory trees, canopy trees, and emergent canopy trees are all present in a tropical forest. As anyone who has farmed or gardened in Belize surely has witnessed any cleared land left to its devices quickly begins to reforest in a tangle of herbs, vines, and hard tree species. These pioneer species are the first plants to colonize an area after the land is cleared either by farming, overgrazing, or fire. These species are often called weeds. A weed is just a name for a plant in a place that we don’t want it or that we have failed to discover its purpose and function.

    AG Briefs
    The University of Belize College of Agriculture at Central Farm (UBCF) will host prominent soil fertility expert Neal Kinsey for the 3rd time in Belize, on February 27th –March 1st 2017 (the 2016 course was held earlier in Feb 2016). The upcoming course will be a new course to Belize; the 3 day Intro 2 course begins with a day and a half of trace minerals. Workbooks for the new course are available now for paid registrants of the next year’s Intro 2 course. All are welcome to attend this course – students, teachers, private sector. Contact David Thiessen at 670-4817 or thiessenliquid@gmail.com. Neal reports that this is “the favorite course” of farmers.

    Agriculture Prices At A Glance

    Issue #35 of The BELIZE AG REPORT is online here!.

    Old Crops Become New, Under-Utilized Native Crops: Ancient Amaranth
    Amaranth is one of the most under-utilized native food plants of Belize. The name amaranth comes from the Greek amarantos which means never fading or does not wither. This is an appropriate name as it is a plant that tolerates drought and persists in backyard gardens with very little care. Amaranth, or as we know it in Belize, callaloo, has been cultivated as a grain for thousands of years. For generations, the native people of the Americas used it as a staple; the most extensive use of the plant was probably by the Aztecs as they have left behind many signs of the importance of amaranth in their way of life. Very little data on yield exists for amaranth cultivation in Belize but in Mexico the yields are comparable to rice. Amaranth has leaves ready to harvest within 30 days of germination and continues growing for approximately four months. The leaves are harvested while the plant continues to grow and produce food for us. The harvesting of the leaves stimulates tillering (plant that shoots up from the base of a plant) so the plant becomes more bush-like. One of the many advantages of this wondrous plant is its ease of handling.

    Rainfall Totals in Belize
    Statistics by region

    Such a Delicious Monster
    By Jenny Wildman. The members of the very large araceae or arum family are referred to as aroids. The family includes many plants which grow abundantly in tropical climates with names familiar to us: philodendron, monstera, dieffenbachia, caladium, calla, taro, dasheen, and coco yam. Some are grown for their edible corms, some for fruit but mostly for their striking foliage. They share certain characteristics such as large leaves containing a milky substance and are all laced with calcimum oxalate crystals or raphides which can cause temporary loss of voice and chronic itching. Even the edibles should never be eaten raw and extreme caution should be taken when handling, so anyone sensitive to oxalic acid should probably stay clear. The calla lily or arum lily is known for its magnificent beauty and has become a symbol of Easter and a traditional flower for weddings and funerals. The Romans put a lily upon a corpse to signify rebirth or resurrection but this later translated into association with death. It was considered very bad luck and the flowers were refused admittance to hospitals.

    Mycorrhizae: what are they and can they give me better crops?
    The symbiosis (the living together of two dissimilar organisms with mutual benefit) between plant roots and fungi has substantial agricultural usefulness. They form a compound structure known as a mycorrhiza or “fungus root”. Plants exchange a fraction of the carbon that they have fixed from the atmosphere for phosphorous and nitrogen scavenged from the soil by the fungi. Since the discovery of the symbiotic nature of mycorrhizae in the late 1800’s, a great deal has been learned about their mechanisms of nutrient scavenging and exchange.Very recent revelations have brought into question whether the tailored application of mycorrhizal fungi in the agricultural setting can enhance crop yields. Interestingly, some fungal partners cannot complete their life cycle without first associating with a plant partner. For this reason, they are referred to as obligate biotrophs (i.e. they need to extract nutrients from or “feed” off of other life forms). At first this sounds like parasitism. Indeed, many fungal parasites like the rust fungi that are known for their ability to negatively affect crops are also obligate biotrophs.

    National Coconut Stakeholder Platform (NCSP) January Meeting at Tex-Bel Farms
    On 18th January of this year, the National Coconut Stakeholder Platform (NCSP) held one of the largest meetings to date since its formation almost 2 years ago. The host of this meeting, Lester Muralles (Cabral), manager of Tex- Bel Farms, located on South Stann Creek Highway, graciously opened up the meeting to any coconut farmers in the area. The new approach for the NCSP is to rotate meeting venues. Chairman Manuel Trujillo opened the meeting and welcomed Minister of Agriculture Honorable Godwin Hulse, CARDI country representative Ms. Omaira Avila, members and guests. Mr. Trujillo began the meeting with disclosure of surveys which showed that Belize now has approximately 4,589 acres of coconuts – 1,919 producing and 2,670 planted. Mr. Trujillo explained that the focus of the committee at this time is on planting material and nursery stock. Although Central Farm has mainly Maypan (Malay dwarf x Panama tall), they are expecting 8,000 Chactemal seedlings from Mexico. All the GOB coconut nurseries in every district are bring re-habilitated.

    Soil Testing and Fertilizer Recommendations: The Albrecht Program
    The Albrecht program is not just a single approach to soil testing and fertilizer recommendations. There are three different approaches that need to be understood to find the one appropriate to use based on each soil analysis. Consultants are not utilizing the full program as defined and understood by Dr. Albrecht and what he taught and advocated if they do not understand or utilize all three approaches. The Albrecht model of soil fertility refers to the principles Dr. William A. Albrecht initially used working as a soil microbiologist to develop a dependable system for testing soils and correcting nutrient needs to achieve the ideal biological environment for growing top quality, highly productive crops and plants of all types. This program has to do with how he regarded soil fertility and approached it with measurable, scientific principles that could be applied and proven right out in the field. As outlined by the principles given below, the Albrecht model is a foundational approach for achieving excellent soil fertility for soils in any part of the world.

    Understanding Cross-pollination in Seed Production
    Cross-pollination is the reproductive method used by some plant species, e.g. corn, soya, beans, peppers, coconuts, vegetables, to secure and improve the gene pool and transfer their genetic traits, to increase their diversity and expand the species’ survival, to adapt to climatic change, and enhance their capability to withstand pest and diseases. In nature cross-pollination is achieved when pollen from one plant is transferred to another receptive plant, either by wind, insects or water through open-pollination. The new offspring carries genetic material from both parents. Depending on how different from its parents its genetic makeup is, the offspring can be considered a new species and/ or cultivar.

    Belize Initiates Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance in Agriculture
    In June 2016 Belize and five other Caribbean countries initiated pilot studies in antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella from poultry under the initiative “Caribbean Integrated Surveillance System for Antimicrobial Resistance in Agriculture” (CISARA). The initiative is part of the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) project executed by the International Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) under the 10th European Development Fund. The pilot studies serve as the region’s first initiatives to gather data on the status of antimicrobial resistance in the agricultural sector. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial drug that was originally effective for treatment of infections caused by the microorganism, is a natural phenomenon. However, its development is accelerated by use and misuse of antimicrobials including over-prescription by doctors, patients not completing their treatment, use of antibiotics in livestock and aquaculture, poor infection control in hospitals and clinics, and lack of hygiene in facilities. AMR can result in severe, long-lasting disease and even death for victims of resistant infections because treatments that worked in the past are no longer effective; medical procedures that were once simple can become fraught with complication.

    ARDI Day – December 5, 2016 Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) - 42 years servicing the Caribbean region
    CARDI day was celebrated on December 5th with an outreach programme that focused on kids. Entitled Planting A Seed For The Future Of Agriculture the programme encouraged kids to learn how to plant and care for traditional Belizean crops. Students from two schools were selected to take part in a modified farmer field school to produce corn starting with planting the seeds on the 5th of December and lasting 120 days. CARDI technical personnel will meet weekly with the kids at school to teach them how to care for their plants during the next four months, allowing them to discover for themselves all the challenges a farmer faces planting corn. Kids were also given open-pollinated seeds of CARDI CY-001 yellow corn to start their own planting at home, and a guide booklet of how to plant corn. A total of 130 students participated in the exercise, and if well-accepted, the programme can expand to communities and agro clubs to encourage our kids to learn and love agriculture.

    Planning and Planting an Orchard
    Global deforestation has caused many environmental problems, such as reduction in rainfall, loss of ground water and erosion; deforestation is partly due to human greed and carelessness about the beautiful earth our Creator provided for our use and sustenance. While we may not be able to solve the problems we have unleashed, for everyone who wants to show honour and appreciation for creation and help heal the environment in a small way, planting trees is one of the simplest acts to do at home. Planting fruit trees is even better, since fruit trees not only clean the air and hold onto topsoil like other trees, but also provide top quality, nutritious food. Think of the benefits as you enjoy a fresh juicy mango or Malay apple from your own orchard! In planning your orchard, it is wise to think of planting trees bearing fruit most valued by both humans and birds close to the house, so you have some hope of picking some as you compete with the birds for the fruit. Such fruits include sapodilla, tangelo, and Malay apple.

    Soil Enrichment Using Biochar: Belize’s Under-Used By-Product
    Biochar, “black carbon”, or “pyrogenic organic matter” are broad terms for various forms of charcoal, which are produced by thermal decomposition of biomass in the absence of oxygen. The chemical term for this process is pyrolysis, and the relative control or regulation of osygen during the production process is very critical in determining the final specific properties each batch of biochar may have. In Belize, biochar is being produced on a large scale by the Belize sugarcane industry as a by-product of energy production via the pyrolysis/combustion of sugarcane biomass or bagasse. However, stock piles are increasing while use is relatively negligent. Conversely, there has been an effort to locally produce and utilize biochar for the production of cacao in the Toledo district. Those efforts have documented an increase in greenhouse-propagated cacao seedling stem diameter growth. Data on actual increases in commercial yield of cacao seeds have not been reported, but other cost benefits typically include less fertilizer use and reduced irrigation costs.

    From My Perch: The Giving Tree
    There was a tree in our yard that attracted so many birds all year round that we called it “the Giving Tree.” I have tried to learn more about this tree so I could recommend that you grow one in your own yard. The scientific name is Coussapoa oligocephala of the family: Crecropiacea Magnoliophyta, what we call the trumpet tree, or Cecropia. It’s hard to believe since they have very few similarities other than that they both grow quickly. I couldn’t find a lot of information so I will share what I know. The tree is described as “hemi-epiphytic or terrestrial” growing up to 20 meters tall. It produces tiny yellow globular spiky flowers birds love to eat. Once the tree matures enough to bloom, it blooms continuously for months even though birds are constantly feeding off the small round yellow flowers. Every morning as the sun rose the Giving Tree would fill with all three types of toucans, motmots, tanagers, hummingbirds, orioles, woodpeckers and wood creepers, flycatchers and even parrots. During migration we expected and received surprises, like the gorgeous scarlet tanager and other migrants.

    Exploring the Avian Wonders of Belize
    On November 2nd 2016, a fall migrant from the Colorado Rocky Mountains,18- year-old field biologist, photographer, and artist, Joel Such takes flight across the Gulf of Mexico and lands on Belizean soil. Unlike the many migrant birds I have followed from North America, I am typically a resident who does not migrate south. This year, I break the trend and abandon the frosty mountains of Colorado’s winter. I wake up my first morning full of expectation. Still under my sheets, the ambient noise of early morning fills my ears with promise. Shivering with excitement, I roll out of bed and snatch my binoculars off the bed stand. A vast environment completely foreign to my eyes lies beyond the door, and countless birds I have never seen await observation. I open the door to overlook a landscape of lush, green jungle, with topography sloping either up or down. I am in the Maya Mountains of western Belize, and this is where my journey begins. Amidst an ecosystem of mountainous broadleaf forest, birds flourish. A flock of migrant songbirds forages the surrounding bushes and trees, and I spot a raptor perched atop a dead tree. It is the endangered Orange- breasted Falcon feasting on its prize, a large bat clasped in its talons.

    Expansion at NATS Grounds: Moving toward Year-round Use
    The Government of Belize has been included in a UN Development Program with the Japanese Government called the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Project. The Japanese government is donating US$16 billion to 8 CARICOM nations to try to reduce the negative effects that climate change has on agricultural and sustainable development in these countries. The Belize government has decided to use a portion of its funds for sustainable agriculture projects with local produce farmers. Construction has begun at the National Agriculture & Trade Show (NATS) grounds in Belmopan for two covered pavilions, one with a cold storage room, to provide a wholesale and retail market for local farmers who grow quality produce. This once-a-week market will be administered by the Agriculture Ministry to improve the domestic market for local producers and allow small farmers direct access to the public. Details, such as which day of the week and booth fees, will be announced as decisions are made.

    AgScience for Better Crops... Managing the Armyworm in Corn
    Corn is one of the major crops of Belize; approximately 40,000 acres were grown in 2015. However, year after year, different pests attack the crop, causing huge losses to the farmers’ economy. The main pest in corn is Spodoptera frugiperda, commonly known as the armyworm and it can be one of the most difficult insect pests to control in the field (Bessin, 2003). Spodoptera frugiperda is known to cause huge crop losses due to its high adaptability to different conditions allowing it to have a wide geographic distribution. In tropical and subtropical regions, losses can exceed 60% (Willink et al., 1993). The complete cycle of the armyworm takes 24-40 days depending on different conditions and has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult which are described below and in figure 1 (CABI, 2016; Knutson, 2008).

    Growing Hemp for Medicine
    Ancient Chinese medical texts ranked cannabis as one of the most important medicines because of its ability to cure so many illnesses and its lack of toxicity. The first recorded use of hemp as medicine was in 2737 BC, and throughout history and the world, it was used for not only medicine, but for fuel, paper, fiber, and food. Until its prohibition in 1937, cannabis could be found in many medicines easily purchased in pharmacies and shops everywhere. When the U.S. Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act criminalizing the use of cannabis, a precedence of prohibition was established and was launched around the world through the subsequent United Nations Single Convention Treaty. Objections were raised by Dr. William C. Woodward, who testified to the government on behalf of the American Medical Association stating, “The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that cannabis is a dangerous drug.” He warned that a prohibition “loses sight of the fact that future investigation may show that there are substantial medical uses for cannabis.”

    Solar Water Heating Systems
    Solar water heating (SWH) goes back a long way; in 214 B.C Archimedes used a concave mirror as a solar collector to heat water. The solar collector is the heart of the system. It absorbs solar radiation, converts it into heat, and transfers useful heat to water in the absorber tubes. The third component of a solar water system is storage. Collectors: Flat-plate glass collectors: The collector housing can be made of plastic, metal or wood; the glass front cover must be sealed so heat does not escape, and dirt, insects or humidity do not get into the collector. The collector housing is highly insulated at the back and sides, keeping heat losses low. The glass cover faces the sun; this helps prevent convection losses and reduces heat radiation from the absorber into the environment in a similar way as a greenhouse does. However, the glass also reflects a small part of the sunlight, which does not then reach the absorber at all. The figure below shows the processes occurring at a flat-plate collector.

    Unwanted Honey Bees
    Maya stingless honey bees, Melipona beecheii, or simply meliponini, make honey that tastes like a mix of sweet and sour with a hint of fruit. The taste comes from plant resins that bees use to build their hives and honey pots. They make their honey in round sacks of black wax rather than honeycombs. They are cultured today, especially in Mexico and Australia, because of their good taste. Traditionally known as Xunan kab, meaning royal or noble lady bee, the Mayas cultured them not only for honey but for use in religious ceremonies. Some Mayas still keep meliponini – for honey and for pets. Found in the jungle in logs, the Mayas cut both ends of the logs and seal them; the bees enter and leave their nest by very small holes in the side of the log. But when they nest in your walls and the honey drips down the wall and on to the floor it means that the nest has probably been there several years and it’s time to get rid of them.

    Low-Impact Tourism: The Mayan Sky Canopy Tour
    Imagine looking down on birds, zipping over the South Stann Creek River in one of southern Belize’s newest low-impact tourism attractions! If you want a unique and safe nature tour, one that offers true panoramic vistas of the rich tropical forests of Belize, go visit Canopy Course and Jungle Tours Ltd. situated behind and between the oceans of banana fields of Maya King Farms at Mile 21 on the South Stann Creek Highway. The owners, Cesar Godinez and Tim Sise recently relocated their former Toledo Blue Creek Zipline to its current location, inaugurating the zipline at its new venue in December 2016. Cesar is no novice for this specialized type of construction, this zipline being the 5th facility that he has created in Belize. Cesar also owns/operates Belize Custom Treehouse Builders; visit to that website (see ad this page) and you will note the overlapping skill sets for these sister businesses. There are an estimated 9 or 10 ziplines currently scattered around Belize – mainly Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, and one in Sand Hill, northern Belize District.

    Blogo Bananas in Belize
    In other parts of the world, the banana variety known as “blogo” banana in Belize, goes by other names. Bluggoe is most common. In Kriol they are called wail plantain or waika banana. Other names are burro, horse, square cooker, chunky or hog banana. By any name used, they are all heliconia plants from the banana family. Blogos are similar to the Pisang Awak variety banana. The official name of this banana variety is Orinoco as it is believed to have originated in Venezuela’s Orinoco Valley. Orinoco bananas have spread to many tropical countries, especially Burma, East Africa, Grenada, Southern India, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand and Central America. They are also a popular hardy banana variety suited to South Florida. Blogo bananas are hardy, pest resistant, and can survive cool or blasting heat. They are easily identified by a chunky, stubby, slightly square shape and grow to about eight to ten inches long and at least two inches across with blunt ends. Blogos are productive and often grow over fifty bananas on each stem. The thick strong peel is a vivid dark green which gradually ripens to a yellowish- brown without splitting.

    Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.
    By Joel Salatin, Book Review By Chris Harris.If you ride around on a huge combine harvester, keep thousands of chickens in a mass feeding coop or spray chemicals all over big fields, this book shows alternative methods of farming for you. After all it is written by a man who describes himself as a Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic. Joel Salatin is one of the foremost advocates of ethical and responsible farming. He has traveled widely around the world, lecturing at universities and talking to farming groups. The book uses the American mass farming model to show the failings of corporate farming and food production. Salatin uses a lifetime of experience on his own farm in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia USA to point out and explain how a better way of raising food is possible without sacrificing ethical treatment of animals or food quality and using environmentally benign treatment of waste.

    How to Grow Vanilla
    It’s easy to grow a vanilla vine. Actually producing vanilla beans on that vine is a bit more complicated, but still not hard. Vanilla just needs different treatment from all other plants. Here’s the short version: Vanilla is a vine that grows up something usually a tree. It has roots that hold it on to the tree and they gather some nutrients for the plant, but it has more feeder roots along the top of the soil, under the mulch. Vanilla roots don’t grow down into the soil much. Vanilla grows better in a fair bit of shade. To get beans (or pods, which is the more accurate word, but most people say beans), you need to do a few more things. Keep the vine growing in an area you can reach it, manage shade, and hand-pollinate the flowers when they come. See? Nothing difficult. Get a cutting from a healthy vine, approximately 1 meter long. Cut the leaves off the bottom half of the vine. It’s okay if your cutting lays somewhere in the shade for a week or so at this point. In places with fungal problems farmers air-dry cuttings in the shade for a few days before planting.

    AG Briefs
    BLPA's AGM will be held on Saturday February 25th. See Ad pg 41 On March 4th , 2017, there will be a cattle auction featuring cattle from several leading ranches, held at Joe Friesen Jr’s corral in Iguana Creek. Please see ad on pg 22 for details. The Chocolate Festival of Belize will be held on Commonwealth Day weekend, May 19th, 20th & 21st, 2017. For information on sponsorships, booths and tickets see page 38. The National Agriculture & Trade Show of 2017 will be held on April 28th, 29th & 30th with the theme, “Let’s Get Growing”. Kindly see the ad on pg 26 for details to reserve your booth.

    IICA Supports the Institutional Strengthening of the Pesticide Control Board
    The Pesticide Control Board (PCB) is the main statutory body responsible for regulating the use and management of pesticides in Belize. There are currently 565 pesticide formulations registered for use in Belize and listed in the official register of pesticides, containing some 193+ active ingredients. Registration, surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of the responsible use and management of so many pesticides is no small task for the staff at PCB. Its importance is underscored considering that agriculture plays an important role in Belize’s economy, contributing almost 13% to GDP, and employing about 10% of the population at the end of 2015. Belize has increased its use of pesticides and other agro-chemicals over the years due to more intensification and commercial development of agricultural production systems, the need to increase productivity and deal with pests and disease problems, and to become more competitive in both internal and external markets.

    Agriculture Prices At A Glance



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