Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2021. 5:10 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Maya Green Growers Cooperative Society Limited from San Antonio, Cayo District, signed a Matching Grant Funds Agreement with Resilient Rural Belize on Monday, December 6, according to a statement by the Government of Belize Press Office.
The Maya Green Growers Cooperative “plants and harvests vegetables such as carrots and bell peppers. The agreement they have signed will enable them to get technical and material assistance so they can improve the quality and quantity of their produce and access higher-end markets”, said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE).
The Matching Grant Funds (MGF) are part of Resilient Rural Belize (RRB), a six-year program, financed with BZ$40 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and participating beneficiaries. The program is aimed at minimizing the impacts of climatic and economic events on small farmers while supporting sustainable market access for their produce.
The agreement between Resilient Rural Belize, a body under the Ministry of Economic Development and MAFSE, and the Maya Green Growers Cooperative is valued at BZ$289,410.
The Matching Grants Fund should provide support to the members of the co-operative to become more economically, socially, and environmentally resilient.
MAFSE said that under the agreement, farmers will match 10% of the total value of the grant in cash and 5% ‘in kind’. The Resilient Rural Belize projects make agreements with farmer organizations, not individual farmers. The projects have the objective of “developing climate-resilient agriculture while reducing financial, economic and climate-related vulnerabilities”.
The Press Office said the Matching Grant Funds Agreement aims at substantially improving decision-making among the farmers as they become active stakeholders in developing climate-resilient agriculture practices.
The Maya Green Growers Cooperative will construct a 30’ x 40’ marketing, sorting, and packaging facility which will also house the cooperative’s office.
“In order to improve production and upskill members, a fertigation system will be provided for the two new covered structures,” said the Press Office. “Water tanks will be procured and provided to the group members and for the two new covered structures to harvest irrigation water. Members’ capacity will be improved through training and engagement in implementing activities while improving their understanding of the commodities (carrots, sweet pepper, and tomato) they produce and market negotiations.”
The cooperative is also expected to conduct “an exchange of existing knowledge with other communities supporting the dissemination of good practices. Additionally, collective decision-making and the climate information system will enable advances in social and inter-community communication improving resilience and sustainable agriculture”.
The grant is expected to have a direct positive impact on 14 households representing the 18 members of the co-operative which is comprised of 14 men, 4 women, and 1 youth (female). According to the Press Office statement, the total number of final beneficiaries is an estimated 58 persons, including 14 women and 7 youths.
According to MAFSE, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development Mike Espat was present for the signing of the agreement along with the Minister of Health and Wellness and Cayo North Representative Michel Chebat, Cayo West Representative Jorge ‘Milin’ Espat, Cayo Central Representative Luis ‘Alex’ Balona, Ministry of Economic Development CEO Osmond Martinez, Ministry of Infrastructure CEO Victor Espat, and Registrar of Cooperatives Gareth Murillo, deputizing for Agriculture Minister Jose Abelardo Mai.
The Maya Green Growers Coop was represented by five-member farmers.
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