The Government of Belize through the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce (MED) and the Ministry of Agriculture with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) launched a USD 20 million programme aimed to minimize the impacts of climatic and economic events on smallholder farmers while supporting sustainable market access for their produce. The launching ceremony took place at the Agricultural Show Ground in Belmopan on December 4, 2018.

The MED as the Lead Programme Agency will have overall responsibility for programme implementation. The Ministry of Agriculture will work closely with the MED and the Programme Management Unit (PMU) to ensure that agricultural sector priorities and strategies are duly considered throughout Programme implementation.

The Programme will support smallholder production capacity by investing in public and private climate resilient infrastructure, strengthening smallholder farmer Producer Organizations (POs) and individual households and capacity building for related GOB departments. In addition, the Programme will help farmers employ climate-resilient agricultural practices and technologies and will integrate profitable smallholder participation into the sustainable development of selected vegetables, fruit, and honey value chains.

Consistent with the importance of women in the Belize rural economy, and in smallholder farming generally, at least 40% of programme beneficiaries will be women. For their similar importance, youth will comprise at least 20% of programme beneficiaries.

Funding for this programme is being provided initially through a USD 8 million Financing Agreement, signed on November 30, 2018 between the Government of Belize and IFAD and counterpart funding from the Government of Belize and Programme beneficiaries. A proposal for additional funding has been presented by IFAD to the Green Climate Fund. The programme will initially work in twenty-three (23) communities clustered in five priority areas located in five districts: five communities in Orange Walk District, six in Belize District; five in Cayo District, two in Stann Creek District and five in Toledo District.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Immigration, the Honorable Godwin Hulse delivered the keynote address. Remarks were also delivered by Mr. Rodney Cooke, Ag. Director, Latin America and Caribbean International Fund for Agricultural Development; and Ms. Luisa Migliaccio, Lead Portfolio Adviser and Country Programme Manager for Belize International Fund for Agricultural Development.