The main objective of the Agro-processing Multi-service Facility in Central Farm is to provide training and technical assistance for the creation and expansion of small and medium sized agro-processing enterprises. The Agro- processing Unit focuses on product research and development for the transformation of local produce into value added agricultural products as well as the transfer of technology for agri- business development to improve income generation and food security.
The Agro-processing Unit started as a Pilot Project in 1999 with the collaboration of the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan Technical Mission in Belize. The main objective was to enhance food processing technology and the application of food science concepts in Belize. By 2002, the ROC, Taiwan Technical Mission had already introduced equipment to be used for product research and training in food processing techniques, but the space to set up all the equipment was limited.
As a result of this, an extension to the agro- processing building was constructed. In the last seven years, the agro-processing program has successfully achieved a stronger application of basic agro-processing concepts and introduced some of the newest technology for e.g, vacuum fried technology and air-dried technology in Belize.
Some of the main activities performed by the Unit are:
- To coordinate training such as food safety, standards, labelling and packaging of products and quality control with the respective agency for training.
- Increase the variety of agro-based processed products on the local markets, improve quality of local agro-based processed products.
- Increase the number of small and medium enterprises involved in the processing of agricultural commodities.
The following are a few of the main services provided by the Unit:
- The production of enriched, flavoured, banana porridge, to be distributed to targeted schools for their School Feeding Program.
The use of technologies to preserve and add value to specific local agricultural commodities that have a production surplus” e.g jams, jellies, peanut butter, tomato salsas, pepper sauces and beans.
- The processing of raw traditional commodities such as cassava and banana into flour for the production of baked products (breads, pastries).
- The processing and packaging of cheese, milk and yogurt.
- The production soy bean bi-products such as soy milk, soy sauce using new technologies.
- The packaging of bi-products e.g honey; training of university students, women’s groups and farmers on the agro-processing techniques of the commodities mentioned above.