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The Booming Business of Butterflies #548423
02/26/21 05:43 AM
02/26/21 05:43 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 79,726
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Most people only see Belize’s beautiful butterflies one at a time, when they land on a garden flower.  But imagine being surrounded by them all the time. Tonight, News Five’s Andrea Polanco has a story about the people in the Stann Creek District who care for these delicate creatures from the time they are eggs through their gorgeous metamorphosis.  In return, the butterflies have helped the family business go through a transformation of its own.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

There are more than three thousand butterflies in Ya’axkin Butterfly house. Inside you can find more than eight native species, including the striking Owl Butterfly and the magnetic Blue Morpho.

Cipriano Saqui, Co-Owner, Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm

“What actually amazes me is one of the specific species, the Blue Morpho – I never thought that one day we would be able to grow those and they are very beautiful. It is amazing how they start from eggs up to the pupa.”

Andrea Polanco

“Is it difficult to maintain them – to keep three thousand plus butterflies?”

Cipriano Saqui

“It is. It is difficult and we have some staff working with us because without them we wouldn’t be able to reach where we are today. It is very tedious and you have to have the passion for it as well.”

…and that passion runs deep in the family. Javier Saqui prides himself on caring for literally thousands of butterflies – and keeping the population replenished and healthy.

Javier Saqui, Co-Owner, Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm

“I really love what I do – working with the butterflies. The first thing that we do in the morning is to clean up the butterfly house and we put fresh leaf inside for egg laying and we make sure that their foods are fresh and they have enough sugar and water inside the feeders.”

It’s a small family owned business. The Saquis simply wanted to bring a new attraction in their home village of Maya Center on the Southern Highway.

Cipriano Saqui

“As a family we decided that we wanted to do something unique in the Stann Creek District since it is a hub for the tourism industry. We are close to Placencia, as well as Hopkins. So, we came up with this idea to do butterfly farming and it was basically for display since we are the entrance of the Jaguar Reserve as well and so we have tourists coming in and out.”

…and that’s how they came up with the idea for a butterfly farm in 2016.  It was mostly trial and error because the family didn’t know anything about the butterfly business. They started from scratch – with just a dream.

Cipriano Saqui

“How to actually grow butterflies; what do they feed on; where do they lay their eggs? We had to do all of those. We had to go into the forest and try getting some butterflies and lay eggs and bringing them in here. All of that we had to do. It is a long process.   We knew it was going to be something that was a challenge for us because we had no experience at all, but we knew it was going to happen so we pushed forward for it.”

With financing, research, and hard work they opened their doors to the public in 2019. And that’s how they created Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm– the only one of its kind in Stann Creek. For this enterprising family it is just as much about a new experience as it is as about education in conservation.

Javier Saqui

“We love having visitors here and we also get locals as well. We also do educational tours for kids. So, this butterfly farm is also a part of conversation – a big role in conservation. We love explaining to them the life cycle that they can see for themselves. They learn it at school but here they see the whole process.”

But as the pandemic hit the tourism industry, the visits to the Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm dwindled. And that’s where the other branch of their business called the Belize Pupae Supply comes in. In part two of our story we’ll tell you how this small, thriving business is tapping into the exportation of pupas and other opportunities in the booming billion dollar business of butterflies. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

If you enjoyed that story, we hope you will join us for more on the business side of Belizean butterflies on Friday.

Channel 5

Re: The Booming Business of Butterflies [Re: Marty] #548458
02/27/21 05:27 AM
02/27/21 05:27 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 79,726
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Pupa Exportation – the Demand for Belize’s Butterflies!

There is a demand for Belize’s butterflies on the other side of the pond. Just ask the operators of Belize Pupae Supply and Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm. Although the pandemic threw a wrench in the visits to their site, the interest for pupa from Belize has grown over the past year. Despite the challenges that the virus has caused to this profitable export venture, the butterfly farmers are working hard to supply the demand. They have been exploring the business of selling dried butterflies used for art and other collectibles abroad, as well as looking into doing live butterfly displays for special events locally. In this second part of the story, we tell you about the pupa export business. Here’s the story.

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Saqui family in Maya Center opened their butterfly business two years ago in Maya Center Village. It grew into something they never dreamed of. Belize Pupae Supply had just begun to get their shipments to the United Kingdom going when COVID-19 interrupted their operations.

Cipriano Saqui, Co-owner, Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm

“We were exporting sometime from December 2019 to February or March when the pandemic came. We had a lot of butterflies. We had more species but when the pandemic hit us we had to scale down as much as we could. It was very difficult.”

But they knew they couldn’t stop because there was a demand for pupas from Belize. They are getting requests from different parts of Europe, and now even Asia.

Javier Saqui, Co-owner, Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm

“So, we used to ship on a weekly basis up until mid-march when everything shut down and we stopped shipping them as well.”

Andrea Polanco

“Because of the pandemic?”

Javier Saqui

“Right because of the pandemic.”

Andrea Polanco

“But there has also been interest from other countries?”

Javier Saqui

“Yes, at the moment we are getting interest from Canada; New Zealand; Italy and Germany so we have four countries that want the pupa – and the Philippines so the demand is there for these pupa.”

Andrea Polanco

“What do you think they like about the pupa coming from Belize?”

Javier Saqui

“I think they don’t have the species there. In those big countries, they don’t have the forests left and so they want to buy pupa here. They also have big conservatories there where they wait for the butterfly to emerge out of their pupa.”

The Saquis will tell you that pupa exportation is a lot of work – it involves precise calculations and a lot of careful packaging for this precious cargo. All this work happens in the breeding facility.

Higinio Chiac, Employee, Belize Pupae Supply & Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm

“We move them into different container, size by size so this is when they are ten days old. These are when they are thirteen days and this here is when they are sixteen days and in their final stage. We check them one by one to see if they are ready to turn into pupa, so we collect them and put them into trays. These caterpillars stay in the caterpillar stage for sixteen days and after that we take them and put them in the trays so that they can hang like this.”

When these pupas arrive at their destination – after two or three days they emerge as beautiful butterflies to curious and admiring eyes in far away countries. For Belize Pupae Supply – the demand is so high that they need time to increase their inventory.

Javier Saqui

“We are getting the numbers of pupae so that we want to ship up to three thousand pupae a week so it is more than we did before so we need to – we have a lot of buyers so we want to share it amongst them.”

Andrea Polanco

“So, the demand is there it is just up to you guys to fulfill the demand?”

Javier Saqui

“Yes to fulfill the demand. It is up to us now.”

Andrea Polanco

“Did you guys ever imagine that when you had the idea back in 2016 that it would grow into something where you are exporting?”

Javier Saqui

“Nope we didn’t know about that.  As we went along we became aware of many opportunities. So, four years ago only had like thirty or forty butterflies in here and here we are with over three thousand butterflies (laughs).”

The Saqui family uses this business to sustain their livelihoods; provide employment in their community, as well as to educate the public. They want Belizeans to take a risk like they did.

Javier Saqui

“This is what we used to keep our employees, to help pay them. Some of them have families too and so this is why we don’t want to stop and we can hire more people to create employment for rural areas as well and this will be a part of rural development in the future. I would say go for it. The opportunities will come along the way. Just don’t give up – go for it. No matter what the challenges are you can overcome that and opportunities will definitely come.”

And that’s where they believe the government comes in – as a driver of what an emerging industry in Belize.

Javier Saqui

“We can discuss on how to get more buyers as well because people have been contacting me from different parts of the world but we just need them to market what we have here so that it can be exposed to different buyers.   In the future I hope that we can have more butterfly farmers here in Belize. We want to be the main exporter of pupae to other parts of the world. So, that is part of our plan as well but in the longer run.”

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

You can visit Ya’axkin Butterfly Farm in Maya Center Village. They are open daily for visitors from seven in the morning to five in the evening.

Channel 7

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