The Agriculture Department yesterday hosted a visit at the Tilapia Hatchery Centre in Central Farm by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Taiwan, H.E. Dr. David Lee and the Secretary General of the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF), Tien-Yi Hsiang.
The visit served as a review of a completed aquaculture project and update of the Genetic Improvement in Sheep and Goat Project.
The Agriculture Department of Belize and the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Belize completed a five-year collaborative aquaculture project on February 5th of this year.
The project was executed under co-management between the Agriculture Department and the Taiwan/ICDF. Today, the project’s work plan continues and its infrastructure and equipment are still in operation.
The project produced a fish farm called the Tilapia Hatchery Centre (THC) at Central Farm in the Cayo District. Field equipment for the aquaculture extension services were obtained and greater technical assistance to farmers was thus created.
This assistance consisted of the full time and part time participation of Taiwanese professionals and volunteers in the field of aquaculture during the course of the project.
The Government of Taiwan provided US$2.5 million to fund this project over the five-year project life span.
The Government of Belize provided the site for the hatchery and the installation of utilities. Belizean staff from the Agriculture Department participated in the execution of project objectives.
The Aquaculture Unit of the Agriculture Department now operates the THC.
Aquaculture extension services and fish farming training workshops continue to be a part of the services provided to the fish farmers. Currently there are 69 active small scale fish farmers spread across the six districts. These farmers have a combined pond production area of over 17 acres. Thirty-eight of these fish farmers are located in the Cayo District. Farm raised tilapia is a secondary source of income for most of these farmers and their produce is sold mostly at the farm gate.
The Genetic Improvement in Sheep and Goat Project has duration of three years (2015-2018) and was signed in December 2015 with the objective of improving the small ruminant industry in Belize. The objectives are to expand the Sheep Breeding Center in Central Farm, import quality breeding stock of sheep (180) and improve the capacity of livestock technicians and sheep farmers countrywide.
Since the signing of the project in 2015, a major improvement has been the upgrading of the Sheep Breeding Center at the livestock section in Central Farm, which includes a 60’ by 200’ Sheep Barn, a 10 acres protein bank and 20 acres of improved pasture for nutrition of the sheep. A total of 60 farmers and 15 technicians have been trained in various thematic areas from across the country of Belize to build their capacities in Sheep and Goat Production.
The project has a total budget of US$1.67 million, of which the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) provides US$1.32 million, while the Government of Belize contributes US$350,000.
The Genetic Improvement in Sheep and Goat Project has greatly impacted the country of Belize, especially the Sheep Industry in meeting regional standards.