FAO in Jamaica, Bahamas and Belize

FAO and EU boost onion, sheep and honey agri-businesses in northern Belize

Since its January 2015 launch, the FAO project, Promoting Agri-business Development in Northern Belize, has been making steady progress towards improving the lives of onion producers, beekeepers and sheep farmers.


The project, implemented by FAO in collaboration with Belize’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture and funded by the European Union, seeks to reduce poverty and improve livelihood opportunities for the rural population in Corozal and Orange Walk by promoting diversification to three commodities: onion, sheep and honey. The overall aim of the economic diversification of micro, small and medium enterprises in northern Belize is to compensate for the decline in the sugarcane market.  <s></s>


The project has targeted more than 350 small-scale farming families in the northern districts of Corozal and Orange Walk. 150 onion producers, 100 beekeepers and 100 sheep farmers are learning new value chain approaches.

According to Jerome Thomas, FAO Representative in Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize, the project’s value chain approach offers several benefits. He notes, “The value chain approach seeks to analyse and strengthen the stakeholders that operate within the industry, from input suppliers to final market consumers.”

To date, several major project components have been completed with success including: an onion Farmer Field School in which 28 farmers from San Carlos, Orange Walk and Patchakan, Corozal were trained in best practices in onion production; the establishment of three value chain coordination committees to provide oversight and guidance in project implementation; the implementation of the Sheep Farmer Field School; the training of beekeepers in honey production; a workshop on group formation, governance and leadership for sheep farmers, and a value chain awareness workshop for senior government officials and development partners in Belize.

Honey Training

Currently, a technical honey training workshop is being hosted. This targets extension officers and farmers in northern Belize. This in-depth practical course will cover an introduction to beekeeping, hive management and good management practices of equipment, value-added products and traceability. This aspect of the project aims to introduce new beekeeping technologies and implement best practices in Belizean apiaries while simultaneously supporting local farmers with training equipment, hive tools and flowering plants in an effort to boost the industry and increase local honey production.

Onion Production

In preparation for the new onion season, an onion storage unit has been designed and will be constructed based on previous consultations with a post-harvest expert from Trinidad. The unit will be built in San Carlos, Orange Walk and will be ready for the next harvest season. For the upcoming onion season, the project will continue to host several Farmer Field Schools in Corozal and Orange Walk targeting 60 new onion farmers. This project will realize several of the benefits gained from previous training sessions. Some of these benefits have included demonstrations on best practices in onion production, harvesting and post-harvesting, which led to a reduction in the cost of production and increases in farmers’ incomes.

Sheep Production

In November 2016, the project team also imported 25 ewes and 5 full breed Katadin rams from Yucatan, Mexico to help improve the local sheep stock. Ahead of these imports, farmers from both Corozal and Orange Walk benefitted from Farmer Field Schools which led to improved pasture and forage banks and to improved nutrition on their farms. The ongoing Farmer Field School on sheep rearing further aimed to strengthen pasture and livestock husbandry practices. At the Yo-Creek Agriculture Station demonstration unit, the project team will showcase the best pasture and forage management practices and best sheep husbandry practices and give farmers the opportunity to observe how the entire system works and how to replicate the system on their farms.

Agri-Business Sustainability

Though the project is currently being implemented in northern Belize, there are similar farmers and value chain actors who could benefit from the application of both the value chain development methodology as well as the best agronomic and husbandry techniques that have been taught through the project. It is expected that select elements of the project will therefore be replicable across other geographic areas and other agricultural sectors. Manuals will also be made widely available through modern technology to encourage the use of participatory approaches by extension staff.

To date, the Promoting Agri-business Development in Northern Belize project is on track to meet its deliverables and farmers who are part of the project have already begun to experience positive benefits.


The project will conclude in September 2017.