Agriculture students from Mopan Technical High School in Benque Viejo and Eden Seventh Day Adventist High School in Santa Elena are assured of excellent technical support from the Ministry of Agriculture when they leave the classroom to work in the fields, thanks to a spanking new Horticulture Training Center at Central Farm financed and built by the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Chief Agricultural Officer Eugene Waight of the Ministry of Agriculture signed an agreement with First Secretary Douglas Chang of Taiwan’s Embassy in Belize, formally handing over the Horticultural Training Center to the Ministry in a brief ceremony on the Horticultural Center compound. National Crops Coordinator Manuel Trujillo welcomed the students and other guests, and Dr. Wang Tzeng Huey, Chief of Taiwan’s Technical Mission, gave an overview of the project which had its beginnings in the year 2000.
The Horticultural Crop Training & Demonstration Center will provide hands-on training for field technicians, extension officers and farmers to help them acquire knowledge about the production and management of vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, organic and root crops, as well as post-harvest technology and the use of protective covered structures. The center will educate technicians and extension officers in fundamental themes to meet their development needs, district work-plan execution and generally to improve Belize’s agriculture sector.
Students from local schools will also have the opportunity to work with research teams and field workers in all the production areas within the unit. The Horticulture Unit will also facilitate research programmes and collaborate with associations, agricultural institutes and other agricultural agencies to develop new programs, which will help to strengthen and improve research programs at Central Farm.
This consolidated research will help develop strategies to continually develop and produce new varieties that will increase productivity. The Unit’s technicians and extension officers will collaborate with farmers around the country to improve crop management practices, develop innovative systems to optimize crop production and minimize the impact of disease and pests on crop production.
Technicians will visit farms for on-site evaluation to compile a more reliable database on the selected varieties to speed the development of sustainable technology packages which environmentally friendly for farmers to adopt. At the close of the handing over ceremony, the Orquidea Negra dance troupe from Benque Viejo performed two dances, a rumba and a Mayan dance, after the vote of thanks from Mr. Melanio Pech.