Thirty years ago there was a big euphoria of the future of high priced cashew nuts on the international market. Lots of trees were planted locally, then things died down and the impulse faded away.
I forget the acreage of Cashew trees planted by small farmers some thirty years ago. But it totalled around 2000 acres, scattered among the area around Burrell Boom and environs. None of it together enough to build a business by anyone. A processing, packing and shipping cooperative was the logical response to that problem, but it took an awful long time in coming.
On Feb. 16th, 2003, a Cashew Processing Plant and cooperative was inaugurated at Sandhill. The plant is 2,400 sq. ft. Relatively modest! Cost was also very modest, about $100,000 Bz. You can't buy much with $100,000 Bz these days in Belize? Not even a decent house and piece of land most days. But it is a beginning.
Theoretically if the plant worked to full capacity, they could stay open year round. Reality sets in and we know there is one, maybe two seasons when the rush would be on to process crude nuts. About 12 to 16 weeks a year. Since a cooperative works on the production and profit motive, this should be a good thing for local farmers in the Burrel Boom and Sandhill area. Maybe they will increase their acreage and make it become more meaningful for exports and taxes? Certainly as a sideline business and income potential it has very good uses. Agricultural product cooperatives help a lot of small farmers who are willing to work hard and substitute labor for cash investment. But production and profit will be the final judge of this new cooperative. We wish them luck!