FARMING GETS A WELL NEEDED BOOST: DFC & M.o.A HELPING SMALL FARMERS

Various sectors of Belize’s farming communities had been severely affected by drought, floods and other natural disasters in 2020. Today the DFC and the Ministry of Agriculture signed a crucial partnership agreement that will help all farmers, large and small.

The most recent official data collected by ‘SIB’ has shown remarkable improvement in some sectors and stagnation in production in other sectors. For a closer look at some of the key productive sectors in Agriculture we turn to data published by ‘SIB’ (Statistics Institute of Belize)

data provided by SIB (PDF Document)
data provided by SIB (PDF Document)

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The following is the official statement released in a Joint-Press-Release of the DFC and Ministry of Agriculture.

Signing on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture was Mr. Servulo Baeza, chief executive officer, and on behalf of the DFC, Mrs. Natalie Ewing-Goff, general manager.

– quote –
“Ministry of Agriculture and DFC Sign Technical Partnership to Better Serve and Provide Financing to Farmers

Belmopan. September 22, 2021. 9:50 a.m.

On Monday, September 20, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MoA) and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) signed a Technical Partnership Agreement (TPA) enabling the two institutions to more effectively share knowledge, information, expertise and support the efficient provision of financing to Belizean farmers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME).

Signing on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture was Mr. Servulo Baeza, chief executive officer, and on behalf of the DFC, Mrs. Natalie Ewing-Goff, general manager.

The TPA covers several areas such as information sharing, collaboration and networking as well as training and capacity building of both DFC and MoA officers in areas including climate-smart agriculture, agriculture production systems, financial management and basic accounting that will enable officers to provide better services to the farmers. In addition, the DFC will work to develop and provide specialized financial products and services tailored to the needs of small farmers and producers, including MSMEs in the agricultural sector.

Speaking on the need of this partnership, Hon. Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, said, “This Technical Partnership Agreement is indeed fleshing out of my Government’s Plan Belize promise, where it is clear in one of the 11 action points of the Agriculture Policy that we will seek affordable financing for our farmers. This is the living out of that promise. I thank the Development Finance Corporation for partnering with the Ministry in the push for progress and development.”

Mrs. Goff stated, “This TPA is not only timely but a giant step towards sustainable development in Belize. Armed with pertinent and technical information and support from sector experts, DFC can better design products and services that are relevant to the immediate and emerging needs within the sector; which, like our citrus product, will facilitate the capital and short term investments, needed to build back smarter.” She closed by saying, “The recovery and sustainable development of this nation, on the 40th anniversary of our independence, is in our hands.”

– end quote –

UPDATED: THE NEW OFFER ON THE TABLE: SUPERBOND HOLDERS MAY ACCEPT

  • Part 2 of 2

This morning Tuesday September 7th. Prime Minister Hon. John Briceno released a video that explains the details of the deal that will settle the Superbond.

The presentation appears to be an appeal to both the ‘Super Bond Holders’ and the Belizean public.

Video Courtesy: Government of Belize
  • Part 1 of 2 (September 3rd. 2021 )

updated: Saturday September 4th. 2021

Today, Friday September 3rd. Channel1Belize.com went searching for some good news about Belize’s sovereign Debt (Superbond) with the intention of providing you (our readers) with a comprehensive understanding of the data and analysis of the ‘ball-&-chain’ known as the superbond.

One of the most recent news articles written by a global financial news organization about Belize’s Superbond or Sovereign Debt was done approximately 3 months ago (101 days to be precise) in that news article by Bloomberg News it indicated that Belize’s interest payment of $6.5-million US$ that was to be paid (May 2021) was not expected to be paid, as a result the global credit rating agency S&P downgraded Belize’s credit rating.

( Monday, May 24th. Bloomberg Article)
-quote-
The Central American nation was cut to SD, or “selective default,” from CC by S&P on Monday after failing to make a $6.5 million interest payment on its $526.5 million so-called superbond due in 2034. It marks the country’s fifth restructuring or default event in the past 14 years.” -end quote-

According to that verifiable data, Belize owes $526.5-million US$ or $1,053-billion Bz$, wherein the original loan was $544-million US$.
Like all loans the interest payments are ridiculously burdensome, but that is the nature of borrowing. Belize has made at least $400-million US$ in payments so far, but the balance owed is almost still the same original loan of $544-million US$.

The Pandemic can never be thought of as a blessing,
But!, almost all small nations are struggling to pay their creditors, just like Belize, their primary income earning industries have been degraded by the Pandemic. Therefore a generous amount of understanding should be the mindset of bondholders/creditors.

Just about anybody can purchase Belize’s ‘super-Bond’ which currently trades at $0.35 to $0.41 cents on the dollar, depending on who is selling it.
Meaning, if you were buying enough, let’s say $100-million US$ worth of the ‘debt-paper’ you would pay $35-41-million US$ to own $100-million US$ worth of the debt, then you would wait for Belize to pay you the full amount. (in the technical financial markets that is called ‘Bond Trading’)

Today the ‘Government of Belize’ made a unique offer to the debt holders (those who own Belize’s superbond ).
The offer is to purchase the bonds for $550 for $1,000 of debt, or by-effect ‘BUY BACK’ the debt from the holders at a price of $0.55cents on the dollar, which is much better than they can sell it for.

It is a scenario ripe with a financial quagmire, which also includes
A Land and or Marine Conservation Agreement‘ for money, those money’s will pay off the bondholders, and the land and or marine reserve will be held in trust by an NGO.

But it’s worth looking at by those that hold Belize’s superbond debt.

Belize wants out of the illusions of 2003, and it may as well be, because! the world has changed, the Pandemic seems to be unstoppable and some people are wondering if the end-is-near, due to climate change.

The illusions of the first decade and a half of the 21st century are now a laughable mess, and so is the promise of many other illusion-eers who interlaced ideas that never panned out to be reality.

With enough planning and vaccines, there may be better days ahead , but for right now we are all trying to balance our ship through these rough seas.

It seems that the creditors may agreed to accept the deal.

During a break at today’s House of Representatives meeting (Friday Sept. 3rd.) the Prime Minister spoke to the media about the developments of the deal which he said has been many months of negotiating, he also said “this is the best deal that Belize can offer.”

In June 2021, UK based Reuters Financial News reported that it was a $550-million US$ Debt. Contrary to the widely known original figure of $544-million US$, or $1.088-billion Bz$

Very Early Saturday morning (Sept. 4th.) Reuters Financial News reported that Belize may have finally settled the superbond “Marine conservation promise helps Belize strike ‘superbond’ deal

The following is the offering document published by the Government of Belize
GOB – Facebook


Related News Article

Editors Notes
Reference Researched URL:
Standard & Poor’s
Bloomberg
Mexico City-based analysts
Omar De la Torre and Livia Honsel


Written & Compiled by: channel1Belize.com / digitalBelize,LIVE Staff writer – Friday, September 3rd. 2021 – digitalbelize@gmail.com

THE AMBITIOUS ‘INVEST IN BELIZE’ PLAN – BELIZE INVESTMENT SUMMIT 2021:

On Thursday, August 19th. 2021, the Government Of Belize (John Briceno Administration) launched a new effort to increase the investment inflows into Belize and improve various sectors of the country’s export capacity.

In the harsh investment climate of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Belize’s new government, (Elected in November 2020) is pushing a hopeful and ambitious ‘Invest-In-Belize Agenda’, under the theme ‘ Belize Investment Summit 2021’ a conference and invest-in-Belize gathering that will culminate at ‘Grand Caribe‘ in San Pedro on November 3rd. – 4th.

And so after all the meetings and presentations of this plan is done, the question becomes, What is the primary strategy of the Investment Summit, and

1.) How or What will define success’. which in short terms would probably be –

2.) A comparison with current and future statistics of 2021/2022/2023
and

3.) Which competitive market will Belize make in-roads into and or how much will the country improve current export capacity of goods and services.

Christopher Coye
Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: (click on image above to go to video presentation )
Ishmael Quiroz
Economic Development
Narda Garcia
CEO in the Office of the Prime Minister

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Like every other nation, Belize is in the competitive arena for selling its agricultural products and tourism destination services.

So the ambitious effort is just the only thing to do, because as the old adage goes, ‘when the going gets tough – the tough gets going’.

The Tourism Industry
The most affected business of the Pandemic is on life-support but those stakeholders are beginning to realize that its everybody’s problem and we better learn to live with COVID-19 for a little longer while we still try to mitigate the infection rate by getting innovative.

WHAT DOES BELIZE SELL TO CARICOM & ELSEWHERE

The CARICOM (CSME) Single Market & Economy is a huge opportunity for Belize.
The CARICOM Block of nations population exceeds 18-million people that will always need food products.

The primary exported agricultural product of Belize to CARICOM member states is ‘sugar’ and of recent chicken.

Those products alone are consumed in CARICOM member states to the tune of over $170-million US$. per year ( about 1/3 of a Billion $bz)

Just Jamaica, with 3-million people imported $25-million US$ worth of the birds in 2019/2020

Belize also produces Cattle, Seafood, Banana, Cocoa, Rice, Beans and fruits for export.

Video – Courtesy: Government of Belize

THE BIG TIME MARKET OF HIGH-END-PRODUCTS

One of the strategies of low volume producers of many products is to target the High-end-Market; and Belize is a low volume producer of many products, even sugar !.

Would You Buy A 250ml. bottle of Orange Juice For $7bz. Of course not! – But that is the price paid for this top-shelf Orange Juice in the UK.

The main commonality of ‘High-End-Producers’ is that they make a ‘Value added finished product’; meaning: in the case of the sugar industry, you would probably make a high-end-product wherein one of the main ingredients is sugar.

In just those few examples of vast opportunity ‘right here in the Caribbean’, Belize may just buck-the-trend of this slow-growth pandemic economy and improve its export capacity by developing and financing well planned local business ventures, and attracting investments from abroad that realize the huge market potential; apply the focused end-product strategy to many of Belize’s products and services and offer finished end-products to buyers worldwide.

A question posed by ‘News reporter Marion Ali’ of channel 5 reminded many Belizeans of past efforts to attract investors: wherein Belize attracted criminal elements, and some who were good investors and others that simply exploited the nation of Belize. The question was a reminder to us all that there must be subtle safeguard to mitigate corruption and criminal elements.

The world has become an increasingly competitive playing field of market economics, and small nations must play friendly, smart and agile to win in these challenging times.

On Tuesday August 17th. 2021 the Government of Belize earmarked $15-million for expanding and revitalizing the Citrus Industry in the Pomona Valley.


Written & Compiled by: channel1Belize.com / digitalBelize,LIVE Staff writer – Thursday, August 19th. 2021 – digitalbelize@gmail.com

The Big Business Of Cement

Cementos Progreso SA, has opened a new cement manufacturing facility at mile 34 on the George Price Hwy. in the Belize District. The opening of the facility was done in a small inauguration ceremony with much fanfare, which including a ‘ribbon cutting’ by the Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceno.

Government of Belize Video:

Cementos Progreso is headquartered in Guatemala City and is one of the largest cement manufacturer in Central America. The company has approximately 1,300 employees and many facilities all over Guatemala. Latest annual revenue was reported at $221.7 million USD or $1.7-billion Guatemalan Quetzals’.

Cementos Progreso’s manufacturing plant at mile 34 on the George Price Hwy. will produce 5800psi and 4000psi cement.

Cement is not concrete; concrete is the final hardened product after it is mixed with sand and gravel (known in that industry as ‘AGRIGATES ‘ ) and then mixed with water.
The 5800 psi cement is the stronger type of cement.

A Technician explains to Prime Minister Briceno how the product is tested for quality and strength.

Residential communities such as La Democracia and Mahogany Heights should benefit from new jobs that should be created as the company ramps up it manufacturing facility for infrastructure development in Belize and potential exports to CARICOM member states.

Prior to the arrival of Cementos Progreso, most of the cement used for construction in Belize was the MAYA brand, which is produced by an even larger conglomerate, CEMEX International SA of Mexico; Which is the largest cement company in the Americas.

How Is Cement Made: video courtesy – Hamid & Sara Engineering

In early 2021 FORBES MAGAZINE Centro-America, did a news article on Cementos Progreso and stated –
“The firm has a 75% share of the cement market in Guatemala, due to the 3 million tons that come out of its kilns each year.”

By establishing a plant in Belize, Cementos Progreso SA now has the potential to export to other CARICOM member states; without high tariffs that would be imposed if it were shipped from Guatemala, but those options will need to be approved by CARICOM’s Trade regulators.


Written & Compiled by: channel1Belize.com / digitalBelize,LIVE Staff writer – July 6th. 2021 – digitalbelize@gmail.com

COMMERCE BIGHT PORT – THE UNRAVELING OF THE COMMERCE BIGHT DEAL

The long history of the once very-active and useful ‘Commerce Bight Port’ has seen many ups-&-downs over the years. The port is essentially a ‘Pier’ that juts out into the sea and a large swatch of land (approximately 8.5 acres) with a small building for an office and or a watchman.

The Commerce Bight Port was once a major port, for the 100s of tons of citrus and bananas that would be loaded onto ships that were bound for the U.S and European port cities. It was so busy back in the 1960s that a railroad linked to a rail system from orchards in the Stann Creek district would bring containers of product all the way to the end of the pier.

Commerce Bight Port – Pier, a train delivers fruit produce to a ship at the port 1960s
( image courtesy: National Archives Belize )
Commerce Bight Pier – Google Maps

Many years ago the location of the pier, which is approximately 1.5 miles south of Dangriga town, was chosen by foreign agricultural business prospectors because the location has natural deep-water characteristics that is perfect for ships to come very near to the shore. (ergo: No or very minor dredging is necessary)

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The recent revelations of a corrupt agreement made by the previous administration went to the Senate today and the most interesting motions of today’s Senate sitting (Friday June 4th.) was the motion to undo a $5,000 per/year ( or the equivalent of, $417 per month) lease of Commerce Bight Port to a company named ‘Recological’ which has no history of port operation.

On Friday May 28th. the business deal between the previous administration and Recological was made public at The House of Representatives.
An appeal to “Let’s Find Solutions”

One week later, On Friday June 4th. the ‘Motion’ was heard in the ‘Senate’,
The legal points made in the debate by Senator Osmany Salas points out that the first red-flag was that the deal violates the Finance & Audit Act. and the National Lands Act. He indicated that the matter may well end up in the courts. Based on the Finance and Audit Act the Government of Belize has a very strong case.

Former UDP Minister Edmond Castro shaking hands with Alan Gobie, the principal of Recological
Alan Gobie – Recological

Jobs & Opportunities

Earlier in May 2021 about 15 low wage labourers were seen at the site clearing bushes and shrubs on the compound. The workers were seen on camera in a news cast on Love News proclaiming their support for Recological and the need to earn a living. It is unclear if they were temporary workers or permanent employees.

The expansion and growth throughout the country will increase the amount of goods and exports that will need a port to handle the increase in shipping. Although agricultural produce are handled by the ‘Port of Big Creek’ some see tremendous opportunity in another port in the southern part of the country.


Written & Compiled by: channel1Belize.com / digitalBelize,LIVE Staff writer – Saturday, June 5th. 2021 – digitalbelize@gmail.com

Air Travel To & From Belize Ramping Up

COPA Airlines, one of the top airlines in Central America has resumed daily flights to Belize. The BTB (Belize’s Tourism Board) has been campaigning for air carriers to resume service while maintaining strict COVID-19 protocols. Today Tuesday June 2nd. a COPA Jet landed at the P.G.I.A this morning.

The company had announced back in late March 2021 that they would resume service to and from Belize’s P,G,I,A in June; so today was a welcomed arrival to stake-holders in the sector.

COPA Airlines operates in 75 cities and 31 countries throughout the Americas ( Central, and South America and the Caribbean).

One of the key conveniences that the airline has introduced to the region and especially for the Belize-Caribbean-Link is the benefit of traveling from Belize to certain Caribbean islands without having to travel through Miami.

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A company statement on its website said ,
“Starting in July, Copa Airlines will increase service to six destinations: Curaçao, Montego Bay, Mendoza, Recife, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa.”

“With these additional flights, Copa looks forward to fostering stronger business and commercial ties between these cities and the rest of the Americas.”

COPA Airlines began offering flights to Belize in December 2015. COPA Airlines is the largest Airlines servicing Central America and the Caribbean. with flights to 31 countries including US, Canada, South America and Europe.


Written & Compiled by: channel1Belize.com / digitalBelize,LIVE Staff writer – Wednesday, June 2nd. 2021 – digitalbelize@gmail.com

NEWS FLASH > > >
Daily News Briefs From: Channel1Belize.com

Belize’s Supreme Court Goes Digital: What Are The Pro-&-Cons For The Public And Businesses

Belize’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals has launched a digital-court-document-filing system.

‘The APEX E-Filing System’ is for those 2 high courts only.
Channel1Belize.com attended the ‘Virtual Launch’ of the system VIA ZOOM; wherein presentations were made by several key members of the judiciary who explained that it will be a remarkable improvement over the old manual document process procedures that were used in the past.

The system enables Lawyers, Judges, Registrars and Legal clerks to file, examine and manage many documents that were previously done in a manual format, can know be done electronically.

The implementation of the APEX E-Filing Judicial Software system in various CCJ member nations was spearheaded by efforts of the ‘Caribbean Court of Justice’ (CCJ) to elevate courts within it’s member nations to migrate to a digital system that is more efficient and enables all within the judicial process of case management to access and file documents with the courts digitally.

Bevil Wooding Executive Director, APEX – HQ – Trinidad & Tobago

After doing some cursory research, Channel1Belize.com can inform you that the software is part of the CURIA Software suite and is used by several large judicial systems including the European Union Court of Justice

In 2017 the Caribbean Court of Justice began using the CURIA judicial document filing / case management system.

APEX is a Caribbean, non-profit organization based in Trinidad, and is headed by CEO Bevil Wooding.

With the implementation of the E-Filing system the ‘High-Courts’ will or should be able to manage cases more efficiently, which should result in savings of materials such paper and photocopying, a reduction in labor costs, and a noticeable reduction in time consumed by manual processes.

THE BIG BUSINESS OF SUGAR CANE – (Part 1)

Since they began milling ‘Sugar-Cane’ in February 2016 the SANTANDER sugar factory in the Cayo district has become a sprawling operation that is just 12 miles from the nations capital, Belmopan.

During today’s ‘Budget Debate’ at the House of Representatives the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Jose Mai indicated that in recent years some cane farmers had to let many tons of cane go rotted because the mill could not accept anymore cane and or they had reached the maximum capacity; for that reason the government recently made an arrangement with SANTANDER Group to mill 50,000 tons of cane.

According to the company the current capacity of the SANTANDER mill is 1.1 million metric tons , – but most of that milling capacity is dedicated to their farming operations.

A Santander employee stands near several large Industrial grade sugar cane harvesting machines. ( Cayo Belize )

(The arm extending at the front of the machines cuts off the top of the cane plant just before another cutter cuts the bottom and rotors guide the main stalk of the plant into a holding hopper )
Image courtesy: Research Gate dot net

The Business of Sugar & CARICOM

Channel1Belize.com (February 4th. 2021 ) The Business of SUGAR
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, Hon. Eamon Courtenay lead a Belize delegation to the 89th. Special Ministerial Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) which is a part of CARICOM. The meeting focused on how CARICOM will establish a monitoring mechanism for all sugar importers
Continue Reading – GOB Statement

This is part 1 of a 3 part series of articles about the BIG BUSINESS OF SUGAR.
Upcoming topics in part 2 & 3
A. ASR / BSI and The Cane Farming Industry of Belize
B. How Cane Becomes Sugar
C. Regional Competition / Global Commodity
D. The Future Of Sugar Usage

E. Business Opportunities In The Sugar Industry
F. Power Generation (Bagasse & Ethanol )

Written & Compiled by: channel1Belize.com / digitalBelize,LIVE Staff writer – Saturday, April 24th. 2021 – digitalbelize@gmail.com

EMAIL PHISHING SCAM ALERT ON OUTLOOK ACCOUNTS

Users of various email accounts such as OUTLOOK and others that are associated with Microsoft should be on the alert for a very well disguised phishing scam that is attempting to get information about your email account.

An email arrives in your inbox that appears to be from MICROSOFT, with Microsoft Logo and a return address that ends in .msn, The email states that your account will be deactivated if you do not verify your account within 24 hours. In the email is a button that says VERIFY, when you click on the button it goes to a website that ends in .so, – dot-so is the domain prefix for the country of Somalia.

WhatsApp SCAM Is Happening On All Mobile Networks

Digi advises all mobile customers to be aware of an existing WhatsApp scam. Scammers are targeting mobile phone customers on all of the local networks in Belize.

The SCAMMERS are technically savvy and are getting confidential information by you just replying to their request.

They pretend to be a friend and then ask for a 6-digit verification codes that they ‘accidentally’ sent to your mobile number. Please see sample of message sent below:

“Hello, I’m sorry, I accidentally sent you a 6-digit code by text message, can you give it to me? It’s urgent.”

Once you provide them with this 6-digit code, scammers are then able to sign into your WhatsApp account from another device and locking you out of your account. Scammers then use your WhatsApp account to request verification codes from members in your contact list. Those who fall victim are also locked out of their accounts.

Digi urges all mobile customers to remain vigilant and disregard any request to share your WhatsApp 6-digit verification code.

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