•Specialty Crops provide a potentiallysignificant opportunity in Belize.•There is a fairly broad repertoire ofvegetables grown in Belize, although only ona scale sufficient to provide a modestamount of supply for domestic demand.•Currently, only permanent fruit crops suchas citrus, bananas, papayas and mangoesare grown on an export scale.
•Belize possesses the soil conditions,climate conditions and growing seasonsthat indicate that it should be able tosupply a broad selection of vegetables tothe North American market during the keyDecember to March window whendomestic US production is significantlycurtailed due to weather.•Belize also possesses the right conditionsto grow certain other non-agronomic cropsranging from peanuts and chia to sea-island cotton.
•The Specialty Crops opportunity consists of aninitial effort to evaluate a series of vegetables (withmultiple varieties for each species)• The scale is large enough to determine whetherthey can meet required quality and productioncost benchmarks to be suitable candidates for theexport market.
•The value per acre of Specialty Crops can beup to five to ten times higher than the value ofagronomic crops, although production costs arecorrespondingly higher as is the risk of loss.•Relative farming margins might be comparableto the current (historically very high) marginsseen in agronomic farming, absolute farmingmargins per acre of land are commensuratelyhigher.
•There is no infrastructure for Specialty Cropsoperations in Belize today.•Greenfield construction of cooling, packing andstorage facilities would be needed.•Key transport methods for Specialty Cropsexports, namely refrigerated trucks andcontainers, are currently available in Belize atreasonable costs.
•High value added crops that would requirerefrigerated air transport would benefit from theextensive air services to Houston, Dallas, Miami,Atlanta, Charlotte and Newark.•Given the limited air cargo currently being shippedfrom Belize, I believe that favorable, long-termcontracts could be secured.
•The primary market for Specialty Crops producedin Belize is the export market, with limited potentialdemand from Belize’s hospitality industry, thelatter currently supplied for the most part fromimports.•Belize’s indigenous consumption of vegetablessuited for the export market is limited for bothcultural and economic reasons (e.g. Belizeanshave more of a traditional “rice and beans” diet).
•The major export markets for specialty cropswould be the US and Caribbean Community (CARICOM).•There is no established Specialty Cropsbrokerage or distribution network within Belize,either for the domestic or the export market.
•US demand would be seasonal, with most activityexpected to focus on the December to Marchdelivery window when US production is limited.•CARICOM demand is expected to be year round,driven in part by the extensive hospitality industrypresent in many CARICOM countries, as well as bycertain more affluent socio-economic segments inthe larger and more prosperous CARICOMcountries.•Exports from Belize would benefit from theCommon External Tariff (CET) which is currentlyfixed at 40% for agricultural products, and therequirement for CARICOM importers to post theirrequirements with the CARICOM GeneralSecretariat.