Creating a sustainable Sugarcane Industry in Northern Belize

PROJECT OVERVIEW: (BL-M1012); (ATN/ME-15051-BL)

PROJECT NAME: CREATING A SUSTAINABLE SUGARCANE INDUSTRY IN NORTHERN BELIZE

FUNDING SOURCE: MULTILATERAL INVESTMENT FUND

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: THE PROJECT OBJECTIVE AT IMPACT LEVELS IS TO SUSTAIN OR INCREASE THE INCOME OF NORTHERN BELIZE SUGAR CANE FARMERS. THE PROJECT OBJECTIVE AT THE RESULT LEVEL IS TO INCREASE FARM-LEVEL CAPACITY OF NORTHERN BELIZE SUGAR CANE FARMERS TO BECOME GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE.

BENEFICIARIES: The project will directly benefit 5,400 sugar cane farmers and it is expected that there will be approximately 27,500 indirect beneficiaries representing rural and urban, low-income, men, women and children in the Corozal and Orange Walk Districts.

DESCRIPTION OF MODEL/SOLUTION/INTERVENTION:

a. The primary focus of this project is on enhancing the competitiveness of small scale sugarcane producers who will face falling prices and increased competition due to updated EU policies and changing market conditions. Specifically, the MIF intervention will center on building a sustainable farming model that strengthens capabilities at the farm-level and increases information and coordination among key stakeholders through two key elements.

b. The first is by creating a dedicated extension service to provide access to technologies and training to farmers and farmer organizations. In the past, extension services have been provided in a fragmented and inconsistent manner. The project will consolidate this role within the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI), which was established as the technical arm of the industry. The project will strengthen SIRDI to fulfill its role as a dedicated R&D and extension service provider for sugarcane production. The project will expand SIRDI’s variety testing program (executed in collaboration with BSI-ASR) to develop early, mid, and late maturing cane varieties with high sucrose content and to produce commercially available seeds that will be available to all farmers. Furthermore, the project increased the number of extension officers working with SIRDI from 6 to 18, who, through a train-the-trainer methodology, will be able to reach more farmers in an organized manner.

c. The second element is by integrating technology and information systems for effective decision-making. As part of the EU’s package of assistance to mitigate the impact of its sugar reform on affected exporters, it funded a Sugar Industry Management Information System (SIMIS) , a centralized database to track all aspects of cane operations, including farmer production, harvesting and delivery. SIMIS is critical to filling the information gaps that have plagued the industry and hindered effective decision making. The project will operationalize SIMIS by training extension officers and harvest group leaders on how to collect and track data that will be used to feed the system. The data will provide an improved basis for crop forecasting, harvesting, and variety selection providing real time data for faster, more effective decision making. Access to the data in SIMIS will be granted to all industry stakeholders while still respecting farmer confidentiality.

To meet the project’s goal of strengthening the capacity of sugar cane farmers in Northern Belize to become globally cost competitive, the project is structured into four components:
Component I: Enhancing Productivity of Cane Farmers and Harvesting Groups
Component II: Developing an Industry-Level Management Information System
Component III: Capacity-building for farmers and farmer organizations
Component IV: Knowledge Management and Communications Strategy

Each of these four components will address one or more deficiencies in the industry. The problem tree analysis implies that the solution must meet the following requirement: to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of sugar cane farmers in northern Belize by: lowering the price per unit cost of production for farmers; sustaining or increasing the income of sugar cane farmers in northern Belize; improving decision making and managements by industry stakeholders.

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