AGRICULTURE COLLEGE OF BELIZE RE-OPENS !
After eight long years, the Agriculture College at Central Farm in Western Belize has re-opened. The Agriculture College originally closed because of budget cuts, due to the previous government, gambling amateurishly, with a BORROW and SPEND type of trickle down economics theory. The end result was the country became after three years of PUP spend thrift policies, mired in International Debt, that drove the nation to a DEFAULT in the money markets of the International arena. The tight continue and will be necessary for another five years at least, before any marked improvement in financial self sustainability caused by international debt service problems. Due to the growth of the population numbers and subsequent growth of government revenues along with it, the government revenues have been increasing year by year at a rate of about 10%. This is allowing this year, for the first time in eight years, a small budget surplus, if tight budget controls are followed; extra money for doing infra-structure repair will become available in increasing amounts, year by year.. Slated on the top of the priority lists have been road bridges and agriculture expansion development. Should the new government of UDP maintain strict budgetary spending and the size of government, by the end of their five year term, the country should be well on the way to fiscal recovery and financial self sustainability. are the problem Belize faces.
This means a re-orientation to economic diversity and productive goals, particularly in our ability to feed our growing population, with excess crop products for export. The recent crisis early this year of 2008, worldwide, proved we were capable already, in the ability to feed ourselves, no matter what kind of outside disasters occurred. The short sharp lesson in shutdown of world food supplies during a very rapid oil supply cost spike in costs, early in 2008, made our new batch of politicians sit up and take notice. It so happened it co-incided with the Tropical Vegetable Research done by the NGO, the BELIZE DEVELOPMENT TRUST, in Hillview, Santa Elena Town, who had just prior to the world oil crisis and , published a series of , as they were trying different methods of producing vegetables on a year round sustainable, continuous cropping basis in the tropical climate of Belize. The experiments worked and news was soon spread through the CABINET politicians, the agriculture community and government Natural Resources Department. Subsequently, a series of articles by the NGO research, on local list serves, emails to concerned government and education individuals, caused a meeting of minds at the political level and soon as some surplus money became available, the CABINET decided to put Agriculture year round production, on the front burner. The recipient of those GRANT FUNDS and increased agriculture budgets were shared with the and Central Farm Research Station of the Ministry of Agriculture, earmarked for training of a new generation of farmers, in what had been discovered and proven in the market place, of new techniques in modern agriculture. The previously closed Central Farm campus of the Agriculture College , now part of the greater University of Belize small unit campus system around the tiny nation, has been re-opened in September, 2008 with a new lecture staff and curriculum and 28 students. The college is expected to expand rapidly as the private sector, mostly Mennonite farmers, and new immigrant investors from the USA , are already reaping good financial earnings from the newer agriculture technologies, proved by the research experiments of the previous three years. Oversight is being provided to the Agriculture College , administered by the University of Belize , as a two year Associate Degree program, in practical money making agriculture, overseen by the research staff and extension department of the Central Farm Research Station across the road, a few hundred yards away in the Western Cayo District. Which is also the largest Recreational Area in the country. Also nearby, is the Taiwanese Agriculture vegetable research plot, which is used to test new Chinese varieties of seeds and crops, for the major two different night time, temperature seasons found in Belize . Research has shown, February through August require different types of seeds not susceptible to 24 hour constant warm temperatures, during day and night. The rest of the year, temperate zone vegetable seeds can be planted. Just add water and fertilizer food. Soil preparation is a must, and small spaced plots to combat the tropical lowland increases of diseases and pests in a growing situation that has no seasons.. Inter-cropping will be taught. The Taiwanese overseas assistance program is also active in food preservation and packaging technology, to build not only a local market, for products on grocery store shelves, but also to fill niche gourmet markets for the export markets abroad. Belize already has a strong trade with Mexico and Guatemala in agriculture and also has expanded in recent years to supplying El Salvador with corn.
The Vegetable BIBLE of the new crop growing technology is the FOURTH EDITION of the “BELIZE VEGETABLE FARMERS BIBLE - FOURTH EDITION”. Written and produced by Ray Auxillou of the Belize Development Trust NGO, agriculture research project. A new standardized book is in the works, being got ready for publication on continuous YEAR ROUND vegetable growing. Several experimenters have succeeded in growing vegetables by adjusting varieties and planting weekly.
The new agriculture college course will be in mixed farming. Food preservation, processing and packaging also. Though the new techniques in continuous vegetable cropping on an all year round basis, point to the strong possibilities of fast money making export opportunities. We already have a growing trade with Mexico , Guatemala , Honduras , El Salvador and new roads along the Eastern side of are making trade easier each year. This opens huge, new close by, trade markets. We are talking over 54 million people to supply. The nation of Belize is also short of milk production cows and . The demand is greater than the supply, for value added products made from milk, like different cheese types. These should eventually include exports. Chocolates for export are another field of opportunity in the more traditional . A $100,000 a year income is not impossible today for these first 28 young farmer students on just ten acres, now studying at the newly re-opened Agriculture College in alone. Mixed farming would give them more diversified revenue stability and rising living standards. Processing, packaging and marketing are the larger problems to be faced as the population grows.http://westernbelizehappenings.blogspot.com ( local news in Western Belize )