In late August, Santiago Rupert Smith passed away. His contributions to Belize’s citrus industry should not be forgotten. Rupert, or “Bungu” as he was affectionately known, was born on July 25, 1953 in Santa Elena, Cayo. He was the youngest child of George Smith and Alberta Gutierrez. He spent his childhood years in Santa Elena, Cayo but moved to Belmopan at the age of 18 where he lived for the rest of his life.
Rupert’s love for agriculture led him to study at the renowned Escuela Agricola Pan Americana in Honduras. This institution, better known as Zamorano, is where Rupert obtained his ‘Ingeniero Agronomo’ degree (the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in the English system) in 1976.
Upon returning to Belize, Rupert became a citrus grower and spent most of his career in the citrus industry. Apart from being a successful citrus grower, Rupert served as the General Manager of the CGA for many years. He also served on the Committee of Management (or Board) of CGA, the Board of Directors for the Citrus Products of Belize Limited (CPBL), the Board for the Belize Citrus Growers Association Investment Company Limited and the Citrus Control Board.
During his tenure in the industry, Rupert took every task seriously and contributed his expertise to make the outcome successful. Industry experts and fellow board members say his contributions were always constructive and meaningful.
Rupert was instrumental in designing and implementing the pounds solids system that continues to operate up to this day in the citrus industry. He served as the Manager of the Pounds Solids Authority, supervising the lab technicians assigned to sample the fruits, extract the juice and conduct the necessary laboratory testing to provide the farmers with their final pounds solids estimate which became the new basis on which farmers would be paid. Rupert was key in introducing this new system and together with the members of the Pounds Solids Committee, he worked diligently to operate a high quality sampling and testing system, to gain farmers confidence in the system, to continuously improve and introduce quality assurance in the operations of the Authority, and automating all elements of the sampling, testing and recording procedures in the lab.
Rupert Santiago Smith died on Tuesday, August 24, 2021, while still serving as the Manager of the Pounds Solids Authority. In passing Rupert has left his legacy on the citrus industry.