A multimillion dollar project to improve agricultural productivity and resilience for small farmers in rural Belize, is receiving a US$5 million injection in funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The bank’s board of directors approved the loan to the Government of Belize for the Resilient Rural Belize Programme (B-Resilient) project at their December 9 meeting.
The goal of the project is to improve the commercial agricultural output of small farmers, increase their access to markets and strengthen resilience to climate change.
Senior Operations Officer, Agriculture and Rural Development at CDB, Mr. Luther St Ville, explained the rationale behind it, noting that while agriculture is a key economic driver in Belize, the small farmers who make up much of the sector, require greater assistance to help it reach its full potential.
“The agriculture sector is one of the main pillars of the Belizean economy – it contributed an estimated 10.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021. The sector is dominated by small farmers who play a critical role, especially in enhancing national food security. However, their productivity and income are far below potential due to a range of reasons including limited productive resources such as access to finance, limited training in modern agricultural techniques and low investment in production and market-related infrastructure and services.”
The programme will see, among other things, 70 km worth of agricultural/rural roads rehabilitated, ten small-scale irrigation and drainage systems installed which will supply water to approximately 450 acres and a national climate information system being put in place.
It will also provide technical assistance, training and rural infrastructure upgrades to increase the ability of smallholder farmers to engage in sustainable production and enhance their access to high-value markets. It will also promote farmers’ adoption of new technologies and practices to build resilience to climate change.
The project, worth US$25 million in total, will be jointly financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and The Green Climate Fund (GCF) along with CDB. (Press Statement)