The agriculture and food sector is one of the main pillars of the Belizean economy, contributing approximately $590 million annually to economic output, representing 80% of domestic exports, and directly employs 17.9% of the Belizean population. Moreover, it is a major foreign exchange earner, maintains a vibrant rural population and ensures food and nutrition security for the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture is implementing major initiatives to reform the enabling environment for agriculture and food production including the regulatory framework, market reform, and adoption of advanced technologies to counter the significant challenges posed by climate change. For these initiatives to be properly implemented, accurate data at all levels is required. The Belize Agriculture Management Information System (BAIMS) is now being populated via the Agriculture Census 2018. This information is critical for evidence based decision making by the Ministry.

The BAIMS evolved from an in-depth Country Assessment on Agriculture Statistics, and a Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Rural Statistics (SPARS) following the standards set by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This project was funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture. The BAIMS is a web-based application that serves as a central repository for data collection and dissemination and was developed by a local company, KYN Consulting of Corozal Town.

The Census will populate the Belize Agriculture Information Management System (BAIMS) with key information on the farmer, geo-referenced coordinates of farms and details on the farming activities. The 2018 Census results data will be used to accurately project production, and link the production to markets using the virtual market platform. In addition, analysis of the geo-referenced data will enable the Ministry to do remote sensing for the evaluation, monitoring and management of crop resources, increase the implementation of pest and disease surveillance systems, design appropriate drainage and irrigation infrastructure and improve climate risk management.

What is the Agriculture Census?
The Agriculture Census is a count of all the farmers and farm activities in Belize. It will present a true picture of the state of agriculture in the country on who, what, and how much is being produced. The Census can be considered a first count, the Ministry will continuously collect data to keep the BAIMS updated.

Expected Outputs of the Belize Agriculture Census 2018
The following is expected as a result of the Census:
1. A National Farmer and geo-referenced Farm Registry.
2. Production data on priority commodities for the period of the Census
3. A populated BAIMS
4. Agriculture Census Report 2018

Importance of the Census Data
The importance of the Census cannot be understated. Farmers, buyers, agro-stakeholders & government require information for decision-making. Quality (accurate, timely & reliable) data allows for objective analysis of the agriculture sector’s contribution to the socio-economic development of Belize. Some key uses of the data however will support users in the following:
• To create better opportunities for linking their products to local, regional or international markets.
• To advocate for the development of better financial policies for greater and more affordable agriculture credit
• To assist with the surveillance and management of pest & diseases
• To assess damages and recovery needs in times of natural disaster
• To better allocate resources and focus programs, grants and projects to address the needs of the farming communities
• To support farmers in disaster risk management
• To monitor and respond in cases of flood & drought
• To provide support and technical advice in water management:
– climate change resilience
– to monitor and measure land use changes

How will the Belize Agriculture Census 2018 Be Conducted?
The interview will be conducted by Ministry personnel and twenty (20) authorized enumerators, bearing a ministry identification card and Agriculture Census 2018 T-shirt.
Before Census personnel begin the Census in a village, sensitization and awareness will take place at the village level through the local radio stations, the Leaders, Chairman or Charlady, Church Pastors and schools.
Upon reaching the farmer, personnel will introduce themselves, explain the purpose of their visit and the confidentiality of the data being collected. Census personnel will also request to take a picture for the Farmer Identification card, a copy of the farmers identification card and a visit to the farm to obtain the geo-reference location.
While Ministry personnel will be conducting interviews village by village, Farmers are encouraged to visit an Agriculture Office and be counted. Farmer and Farm Registration is open year-round.

Where and When will the Census Start?
The Census will be conducted in all major productive villages throughout Belize. The villages of Valley of Peace and Spanish Lookout are the first two villages that will be visited in June 2018. Thereafter, data will be collected for a month and a half in each district.
The time frame for the completion of the Census is nine (9) months, commencing in the month of June 2018 and ending in the month of February 2019.

Why is the Census Important?
It will:
• develop a farmer and farm registry which will provide tools for the better delivery of services and targeting of resources to farmers
• collect production data and provide a true picture of the contribution of agriculture and food production to the socio-economic development of Belize
• production data will be collected and will be a recurring feature of our data management system that will form the basis for a virtual marketing platform linking farmers directly to markets

Why should you participate?
• You will be provided with an official Farmer Identification Card recognizing you as a farmer.
• With accurate production data, we can better link your produce to available markets.
• By knowing where you are and what you produce, we can better respond to your needs in times of disaster recovery, pest and disease outbreak, or any other assistance required.

What will be done with your information?
• All individual data collected will remain secure and strictly confidential.
• Only aggregated data will be provided in official publication.
• Assist in identifying targeted areas where support can be provided.
• The results will support government in measuring the impact of support to Agriculture.
• The contribution of the Agriculture sector and its industries will be accurately measured and reported.

After the Census, what will be Done with the Census Data?
• The Registry of the Census, will guide the Ministry in conducting continuous Agriculture Production Surveys for priority commodities to advise farmers and decision markers on the projections of production.
• A virtual marketing platform, accessible through a mobile application, will be developed where farmers, if they chose to can publish their contact and production information so that buyers can view and make contact.

Census flyer can be download here: