UB students enrolled in the BSc level course History of Agriculture Enterprise Development (BAGR 3362) which I had the pleasure of teaching from August to December 2018 were successful in developing practical knowledge and skill in the development of some bioresources available in our country. The course used historical information on Agriculture Enterprise Development (AED) in Belize to identify factors which have contributed to both successes and failures in domestic and export-oriented enterprises in the country. I was the adjunct lecturer and the course was straight forward to execute because over 90% of the material was from my book, A History of Enterprise in Belize.
My agenda for the course was that, you don’t study the History of Agriculture in Belize to learn dates and lifeless information – you learn the history of Agriculture to gain knowledge to assist you to make your own industrial history.
As part of the course requirements, I required that students become very familiar with the bioresources of the industries. This included analysing the opportunities to diversify the current industries.
Students were challenged to create new outputs from the bioresources and they responded positively by piloting experimentation with products such as hot pepper oil, vinegar from banana, liquid fertilizer form sargassum, and paper from banana plants etc. In the coming weeks i will share some of the successes that these students made.
For now I will show you what two groups did with the waste from banana production. Two teams produced 100% banana fibre paper.
Ms. Jenilee Donis and Mr. Levi Shol created speciality paper for use as gift bags, gift wrapping or invitations etc. Their product could be worked into new types of handicraft to sell to the 1.2 million tourists who visit Belize annually.
The other team comprising Ms. Rubicely Balan and Kenny Balan produced paper that was used to create paper drinking straws. It is know that there is a critical lack of supply of paper straws on the international market at the moment. These students should be encouraged to conduct further experimentation to see if they can produce the straws from the plantain plant which would allow them to produce an organic drinking straw. Imagine the potential if Belize could source a machine that can transform its plantain plant waste into organic straws. These young ladies could be quite successful.
These students showed that we do have the bioresources in Belize to create new speciality and commodity type products and that the young people have the energy to innovate. However, what is needed in Belize is the engineering capacity to assist these students to mass produce their innovations.