Dr. Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment and National Designated Authority (NDA) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), visited the wild cane research plot in San Lazaro Village, Orange Walk District. The objective was to get a first-hand experience and discuss the development of a full funding proposal to be submitted to the GCF.

In February 2019, the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI) and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) entered into an agreement with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to implement a two-year pilot project that would generate the necessary information for assessing the viability of a potentially significant source of green energy for Belize, displacing costlier and greenhouse gas emissions-intensive power and helping reduce the cost of imported energy and the economic strain on the national economy.

Dr. Luciano Chi, director and research coordinator at SIRDI, explained the activities performed by the organization since the inception of the project, including initial land preparation, experimental design, soil sampling, planting, fertilization and field data collection of plant growth parameters.

Ms. Omaira Avilla, CARDI representative in Belize, discussed the activities the organization has implemented, including the national collection of planting material and identification of the species of wild cane present in Belize and a germination evaluation for guiding in the planting of the experiment in Orange Walk.

Mr. Earl Green, project officer at CCCCC, stressed that the results of demonstrating the viability of cultivating wild cane as biomass fuel for energy generation would offer significant potential opportunity towards Belize realizing its goals of becoming an energy exporter, reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, achieving its nationally determined contributions targets, and enabling the upgrade of existing infrastructure to provide immediate and direct benefits on national energy challenges.

CEO Martinez highlighted the opportunity to involve academia in the research to allow Belize to increase knowledge in some of the most pressing issues of our times such as climate change impacts in agriculture. Commercial production and processing of wild cane will provide a renewable source of fuel contributing significant benefits for Belize and the Caribbean.

It is important to note that the GCF and Belize Electricity Limited have provided grant funding for studies to be carried out by the CCCCC as the delivery partner.

Mr. Leroy Martinez, economist/GCF focal point, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment; Mr. Jose Novelo, director of Project Execution Unit, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise; Mr. Ryan Zuniga and Mr. Ian Morrison from CCCCC; and other representatives from CARDI and SIRDI were also present.