Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Agriculture Experimental News from Belize in April 2009
TOMATOS IN BELIZE
The tomato crop in Belize has improved over the last three years of experimenting. The biggest tomatoes last year 2008 were the Polina hybrid running around 8 ounces. From this photo, the smallest front row tomatoes were typical size found in the local markets up to three years ago, when the Belize Development Trust NGO of ours started experimenting. Generally small tomatoes. Last year we got up to 10 ounce tomatoes. I have some coming up now supposed to be big in another month. I was surprised to see in the local vegetable stand in Santa Elena Town near to our place, some tomatoes ( in the back row of our photo ) that were bigger than normal this week. At the Macal River market the other Saturday, I even weighed some tomatos that were running over half a pound. The Santa Elena market owner tells me he is getting tomatoes now that are over a pound in weight sometimes. For 2009, the tomato growing scene is changing for the better as people experiment. Tomatoes are getting bigger and better as we get new seeds and varieties.
TAIWAN VEGETABLE MISSION FAILS IN LENTIL EXPERIMENT
The Taiwanese Agriculture Mission planted some Lentils for me to see what they would do. This occured about 6 or 8 weeks ago. I checked on them this morning and they were overgrown with weeds and the bushes were stunted at less than a foot high. Two and a half years ago, we planted some LENTILS in chlorax pots and grew them by hand fed hydroponics. We got three foot tall plants, but no beans. Not sure why we are not getting Lentil beans. This is something the Central Farm new agronomist needs to experiment with. Belize is the ONLY Central American country that cannot and does not grow LENTIL beans.
The beans are imported and sold in Celinas. They are more nutritious than the popular red kidney beans, and cook easily in 15 minutes of boiling water. Whereas red kidney beans, the CREOLE staple have to be soaked overnight and then boiled for about an hour and preferably with a pressure cooker. Growing LENTILS in Belize successfuly would be a more labor saving and cost effective crop for nutrition. People born here do not have the custom of using LENTILS, they are accustomed to Red Kidney Beans. It is the newer immigrants that want LENTILS.
All we can do is request the Central Farm Research Facility to try again under different conditions and a different variety of seed. Imported packaged LENTILS from the USA are selling for $4.50 Bz a pound and three years ago they were selling for $1.10 a pound, so the imported price is escalating and hurting our self sufficiency and foreign exchange balance.
Asparagus grows year round in Belize. We were not too impressed with the summer crop though. I'm told that asparagus is selling for $6 Bz. a pound, which is a workable price for a farmer.
Got some wax apples this morning from the Tawainese Experimental Agriculture Mission. The crop is coming in and I understand they are selling well.