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The national flag of Belize (Photo: Getty Images)

Belize to support agriculture, food security with US$8M from World Bank

The national flag of Belize (Photo: Getty Images)

Belize will benefit from a World Bank reallocation of US$8 million that will help support the country’s agricultural sector and improve food security, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll.

A worker for the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association harvesting sugar cane by hand. (Photo: Fair Trade)

As a result of the funding, the Central American country will be able to help more than 8,700 agricultural households facing socioeconomic hardship caused by COVID-19.

“Agriculture is essential to support lives and livelihoods in Belize, particularly during this challenging period. This financing will assist farmers who have been affected by COVID-19 and drought and increase farmers’ ability to provide food for the nation,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Tahseen Sayed (File photo)

In addition to drought conditions, which have affected the country since last year, factors such as a drop in tourism, disruption in export markets, and reduction in domestic spending caused by job losses have also contributed to farmers losing revenue.

Moreover, the Government of Belize has adopted measures that were meant to prevent the further outbreak of the pandemic, such as the closing of borders, but have instead created interruptions in agricultural supply chains and a decline in economic activity.

Oranges harvested in Belize’s 2019 season. (Photo; CARICOM Today)

With the reallocation, Belize will finance the purchase of agricultural inputs, cash transfers to small farmers and women involved in agriculture, provision of small agricultural equipment and protective equipment, as well as technical support.

“This programme will benefit agricultural households that are registered in the Belize Agricultural Information Management System (BAIMS) and that are producing selected commodities that are severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic or the 2019 and 2020 droughts. Specific details on eligibility criteria will be published by the Government of Belize prior to roll-out,” a release from the World Bank outlined.