IDB approves $15M loan to spur sustainable farming and tourism in Belize

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USA / BELIZE – The Inter-American Development Bank approved a $15 million loan and up to $800,000 in grant funding for the Sustainable and Inclusive Belize project, which seeks to bolster revenue from agriculture and tourism, two of the most essential pillars of Belize’s economy. The operation will focus on boosting the competitiveness, climate resilience, and environmental sustainability of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in both sectors.

Tourism accounted for 39 percent of Belize’s GDP in 2019, while agriculture contributed 10 percent, and both sectors rely heavily on the health of the country’s natural resources. Both sectors also face major and similar challenges that undermine their competitiveness and sustainability. This loan will support sustainable tourism business plans for approximately 200 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, with a particular emphasis on those working to reduce impacts on the environment, improve climate resilience and foster digitalization and innovation.

At the same time, it will target around 1,500 small farmers from low-income families that are under severe pressure from climate change to drive profitable, sustainable, and climate-resilient farming systems. The funds will be used to provide gender- and culturally sensitive technical assistance to farmers to encourage good environmental practices in agriculture. Farmers will also be given financial aid by vouchers for support from technical advisors on executing their farm plans, with inputs, equipment, etc. Additionally, the loan will fund work to design and implement green business plans for around 40 groups of farmers (cooperatives, associations, etc.) and 80 micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (around 1,300 producers) and provide financial support for sustainable technologies for about a half of them. The plans will also include investments to improve market access for these businesses.

Belize’s economy has begun a vigorous rebound: GDP shot up 12.5 percent in 2021 and is projected to grow another 6.5 percent in 2022, despite the impact brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation must navigate lingering uncertainty and risks from the ongoing health crisis, the frequency of natural disasters, and rising inflation.

The IDB loan will benefit small farms, members of agricultural associations, and owners and employees of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in agriculture and tourism throughout the country. The funding will also include target on women, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, and migrants.

This operation aligns with the IDB’s Vision 2025, the IDB Group’s roadmap to recovery and inclusive growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The vision’s priorities include support for small and medium enterprises, digital transformation, gender equality, regional integration, and the fight against climate change.

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