The Cabinet said that in “recognizing that the citrus industry is critical to Belize’s socioeconomic development, approved the allocation of $15 million in loan financing to be disbursed through the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) for the industry”.
This financing facility will be disbursed over a three-year period at interest rates ranging from 5.5 to 8 percent for implementing short- and medium-term programs necessary for the revitalization of the citrus industry. Of the $15 million being approved, 50% or $7.5 million is earmarked for borrowing by small and medium sized growers.
Minister of Agriculture Jose Abelardo Mai told Breaking Belize News (BBN), that “the citrus industry was neglected for over a decade by our political leaders” and that “the industry is now on life support”. However, with the disbursement of much needed loan funds through the DFC to bona fide farmers, the use of new technology and with the Ministry providing guidance to the industry, Mai said that the industry will rebound and approach the glory days of the early 2000’s.
Prime Minister John Briceno informed the nation that his government is targeting an increase in citrus production to 3 million boxes in five years time, and to 5 million boxes in 10 years time. Of significance is that the 2020-2021 citrus crop was a mere 1.35 million boxes.