Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) Secures US$25 Million Grant to Improve Resilience of Northern Belize Sugar Industry

BSI Secures US$25 Million Grant to Improve Resilience of Northern Belize Sugar Industry

We remain committed to strengthening the resilience of the northern Belize sugar industry in the face of growing challenges posed by climate change. In 2020, our company Belize Sugar Industries, Ltd. (BSI) partnered with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) and other industry stakeholders to design a project to build climate resilience in the industry. In March, the project was approved by the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is funding the project, called “Building the Adaptive Capacity of Sugarcane Farmers in Northern Belize,” through a grant of US$25,000,000.  

“The project seeks to assist more than 5,000 small cane farmers to become more viable and resilient to climate shocks,” said Olivia Avilez, Cane Farmer Relations & Communication Manager, who travelled to the GCF Board’s annual meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, to witness the approval of the project at the 38th GCF Board Meeting. “The grant we obtained will subsidize the cost of change for farmers who join the program, which will include replanting cane with new, diverse varieties, as well as soil and water management programs.”

Following the worst drought in 60 years in 2019, which saw the loss of 42% of the northern sugar industry’s cane crop, we identified the need for a strategy to help protect the industry from future climate shocks. Key to this strategy has been the development of new sugarcane varieties that are more resilient to climate variations. Each year, we evaluate more than 40,000 new varieties and have developed 11 promising ones through our collaboration with the West Indies Central Sugar Cane Breeding Station (WICBS). 

Recognizing the need to propagate these varieties and to transform farming practices in the north to improve productivity and resilience, in 2020, we secured US$300,000 of support from IDB Invest to create a transformation strategy, which has at its heart modernization of farming practices and building varietal resilience. Securing the US$25,000,000 grant from the GCF helps bring this strategy closer to reality.

“We are grateful to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center for providing a platform to secure of support for climate resilience in the northern sugar cane industry from the Green Climate Fund (GCF),” said Mac McLachlan, VP, Country Manager, Belize. “This is another important development in BSI’s continued strategy to build a better future for the sugar industry in the north.”
The project includes several other key elements, including a new and innovative agro-credit scheme funded by BSI and launched by the Prime Minister in November 2023 called AgGrowPro. The program, worth BZ$6,000,000 annually, envisages service delivery and will act as a catalyst for the CCCCC’s project by providing farmers with instant access to farming credit for service provision at exactly the time they need it. In this year alone, we have invested BZ$3,000,000 for new equipment to provide agro-credit through AgGrowPro. 

The third element is an innovative blockchain solution to reduce risk to lenders for payment for farming services, such as replanting and husbandry, by making the transactions more transparent, and using GIS technology to track results and repayment of services through farmers’ cane delivery. Farmers can track progress through their cell phones. 

“We look forward to working closely with farmers and stakeholders for a brighter future in the industry,” said Olivia Avilez, Cane Farmer Relations & Communication Manager. “The success of securing the Green Climate Fund grant through the CCCCC is an important milestone toward this outcome.”