Financial management training for sugar cane farmers in Belize

Orange Walk, Belize. December 10, 2013. During the week of December 2 2013, Dr. Henry Quesada, Assistant Professor at the Department of Sustainable, delivered a workshop in financial management to sugar cane farmers in Orange Walk, Belize. Dr. Quesada was contacted through PeaceWork, an American organization that supports and collaborates with communities in developing countries through social and training projects. PeaceWork recently established an agreement with a Belizean organization under the name of Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute (SIRDI) that supports the local sugar cane farmers through training, technology transfer, and technical assistance.

Henry Quesada teaches cost allocation to sugar cane farmers in Belize as part of the financial management training.
Henry Quesada teaches cost allocation to sugar cane farmers in Belize as part of the financial management training.

Orange Walk is the heart of the sugar cane industry of Belize with more than 25,000 hectares in production that are managed by over 5,000 farmers. The majority of the farmers are second and third-business generation and 90% are considered Maya people. Currently, sugar cane is delivered to a mill processing facility owned by an American company in Orange Walk. The final product, sugar, is exported to European and American markets. During the last couple of years the mill have been using bagasse, the most significant byproduct of the sugar cane milling process, to co-generated electricity and there have been conversations to provide more compensation to the farmers from the sale of electricity.

The Department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech is taking steps to diversify its academic portfolio from traditional renewable materials such as wood to agriculture products such as sugar cane. Sugar cane has become a significant and important crop in developing and developed countries not just because the production of sugar but also because the impact on the bioenergy and composite material markets. The training delivered to sugar cane producers in Orange Walk has designed to help farmers prepare for incoming opportunities and challenges in those markets. In total, 110 farmers where trained as well as nine of SIRDI’s staff. In addition to the delivery of the training, a financial management book was prepared with theory and examples of how to performance financial management applied to the production of sugar cane.

For additional details or questions, please contact Dr. Henry Quesada at