IICA assists farmers in Toledo

vlcsnap-2013-04-08-20h05m57s172IICA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, provides technical cooperation to the Government of Belize in a number of ways. One such initiative is through a program on food security and improving competitiveness of farmers in the marketing of their products. Under this program, is a regional project called RED-Sicta, which employs technological innovations in IICA’s efforts, with specifications to corn and beans. RED-Sicta recently wrapped up its phase 2, under the title – “Innovations to improve the competitiveness and the income of small white maize and black beans producers of Jalacte and San Vicente Villages, Toledo District”.  And last week Thursday, the organization hosted a field day in San Vicente Village in the Toledo to share with stakeholders the results of this phase. Representative from IICA, Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim, shared on the objectives of the project in the southern villages.

Dr Muhammad Ibrahim – IICA Representative:  
vlcsnap-2013-04-08-20h05m25s114In Belize this project was implemented in Jalacte and San Vicente, which are in the District of Toledo.  The project has several objectives; one is to provide technologies to farmers for improving their productivity of the corn and beans. These productions have increased between 20 to 30% in some cases due to the technological innovation that farmers have been using, better management of the crop, better planting, better swing distances and better fertilizing management of the crops. Another objective was to decrease the past harvest losses of corn and beans which is a major problem. We find that many cases due to bad management, our poor practices for storage of corn and beans, losses could be up to 40 and 50%.
So the project focused on improving the technology for drying, shelling, harvesting and processing.

IICA also provided training to the farmers to improve knowledge and skills on the business and marketing side.

Dr Muhammad Ibrahim – IICA Representative:  
vlcsnap-2013-04-08-20h05m14s248Strengthening the farmers and organizing the farmers, they can collectively work together, and be more oriented to markets where they can have better prices for their products, and in the value chain having added value for the products they’re producing. One of my hopes is that these organizations will continue to provide support to these local organizations here, to improving their organizations’ structure and the capacity for managing the whole production systems as a business, and this can be a prosperity for them in terms of economic benefits and also securing their livelihoods and food security.

The US Embassy, a key partner in the project, provided assistance in post harvest activities of corns and beans. Ambassador of the US to Belize, His Excellency Vinai Thummalapally, spoke more about the embassy’s assistance.

H. E. Vinai Thummalapally – U.S. Ambassador to Belize:
vlcsnap-2013-04-08-20h05m50s48Specifically, the assistance is post-harvest management.  How to help farmers in this village of San Vicente, and also the neighboring village of Jalacte.  After corn and beans get harvested, traditionally they used to dump it into the market and when price was lowest. So, there were huge opportunities for the improving efficiency, reducing waste and to also be able to store the grain and the beans for better prices.  So, we made a modest investment with this group, back in early 2010.

IICA also partnered with CARDI and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture. The project was financed by Swiss funds, with additional funding from the US Embassy for a new storage unit, grain shellers, grain dryers and silos. The third phase of the project is currently being developed. This next stage will be geared toward promoting sustainable corn and bean production for food security and income generation of farmers and rural communities. Meanwhile, the Ministry pledges its support in ensuring continuity and long term sustainability of the activities started under RED-Sicta.

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