Belize is a country on the eastern coast of Central America, and while over 60% of Belize’s land surface is covered by forest, some 20% of the country’s land is covered by cultivated land (agriculture) and human settlements. Belize has a small, mostly private enterprise economy that is based primarily on export of agriculture, agro-based industry, crude petroleum, and tourism. In agriculture, citrus and sugar remain the chief crops accounting for nearly half of exports while the banana industry is the population’s largest employer.
In 2011, the country’s gross exports amounted to US $345.7 million with citrus (14.8%), sugar (13%), banana (9.1%), marine products (7.1%) and papaya (3.3%).making up the largest categories.
Belize’s arable land is also well suited for investments in agriculture and agribusiness. The country currently produces primary products including soy beans, rice, citrus, sugar, bananas, and papayas. However, much opportunity remains in non-traditional food crops such as tropical fruits, vegetables, and exotic forestry products.
- Local exotic fruits can be processed into jams, jellies, extracts and pastes that can be packaged and exported as tropical products.
- Export markets exist for sawn wood, veneer, grains, jams and jellies, and pepper sauces.
- In terms of aquaculture, a number of species can be farmed in Belize including “River Lobster”, Blue-eye Catfish, Common Snook, Mutton Snapper, Nassau Grouper, Blue Crab, Flounder, Australian Freshwater Lobster, Channel Catfish, Malaysian Prawn and Florida Pompano.
- Given Belize’s proximity to the US, the country can supply a range of crops and fish products on a regular basis.
According to FAO’s Country Programming Framework for Belize: 2011-2015, agriculture in Belize is characterized by three main sub-sectors:
- A fairly well organized traditional export sector for sugar, banana, citrus, and marine products
- A more traditional, small-scale farm sectors, producing food mainly for local consumption
- A well-integrated large-scale commercial sector