History of BPA
The Belize Poultry Association (BPA) was officially established on May 3, 1996 with the registration of its Articles and Memorandum of Association as per the Company Act Chapter 206 of the Laws of Belize 1980 and the granting of a certificate of Incorporation. The BPA was registered as a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital.
An informal Association was formed some 10 years earlier and held meetings and organized the industry on behalf of its membership. The commercial sector of the poultry industry was of “Mennonite” farmers and eventually included some local producers. All commercial producers are now members of the BPA. Currently, there are some 350 producers in all subsectors of the poultry productive sector and they are mainly located in four communities across three districts of the country. In addition to the producers, the poultry processors, feed millers and hatcheries are also active members of the BPA.
Before the commercials sector was organized, Belize imported all of its poultry meats from the United States of America. These imports were all frozen products and a large portion was dark meat parts (legs and thighs) and neck and backs. Since the advent of the organized poultry industry in Belize, very little fresh or frozen uncooked chicken products have been imported with the exception of some whole turkeys, turkey parts and whole ducks (not produced in Belize). One significant advantage of the local poultry industry thus, is the self sufficiency in poultry meat supply which has been achieved. Belize has an average per capita consumption of chicken meat of approximately 109 lbs or 49.5 kgs. per person per year and approximately 141 eggs per person per year (2011 annual report). This level of consumption places the country in one of the top positions in terms of egg consumption in the Caribbean and one of the top consumers of chicken meat in the Western hemisphere.
The country of Belize is comprised of six districts in which there are 191 villages in the rural areas most of which have some type of backyard poultry. While the backyard industry is largely used for personal local egg supply, it also contributes to the national poultry meat consumption. The Belize Poultry Association works closely with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) in the areas of National Poultry Health and Food Safety. One of the ongoing programmes is that of Poultry Health surveillance which is sponsored by the BPA with technical and laboratory assistance provided by BAHA. Although, the backyard industry is for the most part in the hands of the non-Mennonite producers, it still poses a biosecurity concern for the commercial sector and thus of significant national importance.
The BPA has membership within the Federation of Poultry Producers of Central America (FEDAVICAC) and the Caribbean Poultry Association (CPA). Through its affiliation with the CPA, the BPA has participated in several technical training programmes for broiler and table egg producers in Belize and the other CARICOM states. In addition, the BPA in 2004, was the recipient of a grant through the Caribbean Programme for Economic Competitiveness (CPEC) to implement the “Belize Poultry Industry improvement Project. This project included a Broiler and Table Egg Production School, the production of posters, brochures, pamphlets on chicken meat and table egg nutrition and the implementation of biosecurity measures in the productive sector as well as the preparation of a National Table Egg Profile.
Between 2005 and 2006, the BPA was also the recipient of technical assistance from the Florida International Volunteer Corps (FAVACA) in the area of Poultry biosecurity training and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPS) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) processing plants.
In 2008, The BPA was the recipient and participant of a competitiveness study done by FEDAVICAC and the Inter-american Institute for Agricultural Cooperation (IICA), in table eggs and broilers. In addition, the BPA also secured assistance from the European Center for Development of Enterprise (CDE) for HACCP training at two of the larger processing plants.
The Association has devoted considerable time in organizing production and poultry health seminars for its membership while at the same time negotiating with Government on the matter of favourable prices for the sector’s products, and in maintaining agreements and commitments within the region. Most recently, in July 2011, the BPA collaborated with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a capacity building project covering strategic planning, governance and management skills of middle and upper management in the poultry industry.
The first office building of the BPA was located on Far West Street in San Ignacio since April of 2003 when the Association hired its first manager. In 2005, seeing the need for additional space and staff, the office was moved to its current location in Red creek, Cayo District.
The current staff comprises a Manager, Veterinary specialist and an Office Assistant. The first elected chairman by the Board of directors in 2003 is Mr. Bernhard Bergen of Blue Creek who served in that position until March 2010. Mr. Bergen is succeeded by Mr. Jake Rempel also of Blue Creek who is currently serving his third year as chairman of the BPA.