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Value Addition through Agro-processing; Meet the Graduates

May 9, 2023

Value Addition through Agro-processing; Meet the Graduates

A closing ceremony for the Empowering Women and Youths initiative was held at the National Agricultural and Trade Showground in Belmopan. The aim is for participants to generate income through agro-processing and value addition of locally-grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables. The brief ceremony brings to an end another aspect of the partnership between the Government of Belize and the Republic of China (Taiwan).  This is as it relates to enhancing the economic empowerment of women in Latin America and the Caribbean in the post-pandemic era. Twenty-seven small scale entrepreneurs successfully completed the program and were beaming with pride, as they accepted their certificates today. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting

The first cohort of small scale entrepreneurs, particularly women, participated in several weeks of training on value addition to their produce. It began with thirty individuals engaging in everything from processing fruits and vegetables at their homes, to labelling and preserving products that can then be sold in the markets.  Twenty-seven graduated the program today.

Earvin Gentle

Earvin Gentle, Coordinator, Agroprocessing Unit, Ministry of Agriculture

“At our unit, we are able to do value addition of fruits and vegetables. So for example, we make pineapple jam, we make pineapple preserves which is similar to fruit cocktail so we can do a blend in terms of pineapple and mango. That’s preserved fruit. Bring your product and we can develop it there, enhance it to be able to have a longer shelf life and to be able to at least meet the requirements of the market such as the labelling standards, the public health regulations and also the food safety aspect of it.”

While it was facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture, the training was made possible through cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration and the Taiwanese government.

Amalia Mai

Amalia Mai, C.E.O., Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade

“To recognise the women and to open up new opportunities for you all to be able to have a better life, for you to be able to support your families, for you to be able to support your friends, your communities and by extension, the economic development of Belize. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for you and when we signed off with this agreement with the Government of Taiwan, we knew that it would take some time but the importance and the benefits that you are enjoying today are wonderful.”

Lily Li-Wen Hsu

Lily Li-Wen Hsu, Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize

“Time fly so fast and I believe it is especially so for the participants of this project. It might not be easy but the time these participants spent with the course is surely worthy and rewarding. So I want to first extend my sincere congratulations to all of you who finished this training course.”

Several graduates shared how the program has improved their business so far and the opportunity for further growth.

Winsi Baeza

Winsi Baeza, Prosperity Cooperative, Orange Walk

“A lot of information was shared especially from Ministry of Health and BAHA, Bureau of Standards of all that we need to have in place to do our products more quality standards, I would say. We had on display whole tomatoes, we had pineapples in chunks, we had tomatoes in pasta; we had salsa casera and we had jalapenos.”

Julie MacRae

Julie MacRae, Julie’s Zucchini Salza

“I am based in Santa Elena, but I have my product in twenty-four stores countrywide and this was a very beneficial course for me. Learned a lot from BAHA, public health regarding exporting and what needs to be done in terms of getting HAZOP approved so I can start exporting.”

Duane Moody for News Five.