Belize receives $15 million loan to promote sustainable agriculture and tourism

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced Thursday that it has approved a $15 million loan and up to $800,000 in grants for the Sustainable and Inclusive Belize Project, which aims to boost incomes from agriculture and tourism, two of the most essential to Belize’s economy.

The operation will focus on strengthening the competitiveness, climate resilience and environmental sustainability of micro, small and medium enterprises in both sectors.

It will benefit smallholders, members of agricultural associations, as well as owners and employees of micro, small and medium-sized agricultural and tourism enterprises throughout the country, and will target women, indigenous peoples, people of African descent and immigrants.

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“This loan will support the sustainable tourism business plans of approximately 200 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, with a particular focus on those working to reduce environmental impacts, improve climate resilience and foster digitalization. and innovation,” the IDB said.

“At the same time, it will target around 1,500 smallholder farmers from low-income families who are under severe pressure from climate change to establish profitable, sustainable and climate-resilient agricultural systems.”

The Washington-based bank said the funds will be used to provide gender and culturally sensitive technical assistance to farmers to encourage good environmental practices in agriculture.

Farmers will also receive financial assistance in the form of vouchers for the support of technical advisors in the execution of their farm plans, with inputs, equipment, etc.

In addition, the loan will finance the work of designing and implementing green business plans for about 40 groups of farmers – cooperatives, associations, etc. – and 80 micro, small and medium enterprises and will provide financial support for sustainable technologies for around half of them.

The plans will also include investments to improve market access for these companies.

Tourism accounted for 39% of Belize’s GDP in 2019, while agriculture accounted for 10%, and both sectors depend heavily on the health of the country’s natural resources. They also face major and similar challenges that undermine their competitiveness and sustainability.

The IDB noted that Belize’s economy has started a strong rebound: GDP jumped 12.5% ​​in 2021 and is expected to grow another 6.5% in 2022, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. .

He said the country faces continued uncertainty and risks from the ongoing health crisis, frequent natural disasters and rising inflation.

CMC/

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