There has been a marvelous turn-a-round in Belize these last few years in some government departments. The Education people have been leading the way into the future, at least as regards to higher levels of education, but not in the more needy lower problem areas of primary rural school education. The advances are well documented on the Belize Development Issues Reports.
But the Agriculture Department is fast catching up and coming from behind in this race, to see which department can have more effect in developing the country and raising living standards and economics. Nowadays, the Belizean farmer is divesifying. Cabbages, onions, new markets for papaya, peppers, and other experiments and actual new crops are being put on line.
It is difficult in the tropics with two growing seasons a year, dependent on rainfall, local geography, thin soils of only one inch over a limestone shelf and a host of insects and diseases waiting in the humid tropical heat to destroy new farming ventures.
Include the problems of storage, processing small quantities, packaging, transportation and other things and you have formidable problems hindering agricultural development for perishable produce in hot tropical conditions. In a compact between the Marketing Board and the Agriculture Department, new ventures are springing up successfully around the two northern districts of Orange Walk and the Cayo District. Both are close to Central Farm the research establishment and Belmopan where the bureaucrats and politicians work and live. Distance is probably the main controlling factor in such agricultural development, barring any new methodologies of processing, packaging, marketing and storage.
Even so, some of the new crops are indeed new in the import substitution field. Progress is still relatively minor, but at the present rate of progress, about four more years could possible see the Agriculture Department draw even in this race for service to the Belizean citizen in rural areas with the Education Department, which still has a substantial lead, they may not be able to hold.