Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Belize onion farmers bankrupted by local competition.

pickled small onions for export
rotting onions in Orange Walk and Corozal flat lands.


Pictures on local television show interviews with groups of organized small onion growers, who have borrowed money from banks and credit unions to grow onions, lamenting the competition and overproduction for the local market. First the market opened well, at prices of $45 per 50 lb bag, or .90 cents a pound. As more onions came on the market, the price started falling to .60 cents a pound and eventually to .40 cents a pound.
I was reminded of my own youth around 11 or 12 years old, growing up on a Southern Ontario, Canada farm, in which the same thing happened to growers of turnips. After a second year of rotting turnips due to overproduction, the third year, with less growers, now changed into growing oats, or wheat, or hay, the turnip price skyrocketed and those farmers with turnips ended up doing very well. In those years, our rural, one room schoolhouse was closed as children were put into the fields in the FALL season to harvest crops.
Competition for the local market has swamped the farmers of onions, in the Orange Walk and Corozal flat land district.
Some crops simply do not lend themselves to year round growing in Northern Belize. The reason for this is flowering has to take place in colder night time temperatures and at certain seasons in Belize, only works in the Mountain Pine Ridge hills, where the altitude and lower night time temperature differential occurs with the day time warmer temperature differential. Seems like the extension Agricultural officers still do not have a handle on growing crops in Belize.
Tomatoes require the Maya Mountains and colder night time air to flourish successfully, in the local dry hot seasons, so do orchids, which currently are only grown at Central Farm in air conditioning temperature controlled conditions.
The local TV showing farmers ruined by rotting onions brings back memories. It is also a mistake for government to encourage farming crops based on loans, but no matter how you much you tell them in Belize, a bureaucracy run by port town academics continues to distribute ruinous ideas and misinformation. For which in the end they just shrug their shoulders and make excuses, as they live on a guaranteed monthly salary.
If you are going to grow crops, you need to be able to export them. I see nobody growing the very small round onions used for pickled containers in vinegar, which can be exported. Ebb andf Flow Hydroponics does this crop very well, on a year round basis. I believe they call them leeks.

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