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The University of Belize creating enterprising students Print E-mail
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Friday, 11 January 2019 00:00

University of Belize students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science level course in History of Agriculture Enterprise Development (BAGR 3362),  which ended last month, have been successful in developing practical knowledge and skill in the development of some bio-resources available in Belize. The five-month course used historical information on Agriculture Enterprise Development (AED) in Belize to identify factors which have contributed to both the successes and failures in domestic and export-oriented enterprises in the country.

Professor Frantz Smith was the adjunct lecturer and the course was straightforward to execute, because over 90% of the material was from his book, A History of Enterprise in Belize. His 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, Smith required that students become very familiar with the bio-resources of the industries. This included analyzing the opportunities to diversify the current industries.

Students were challenged to create new outputs from the bio-resources and they responded positively by piloting experimentation with products such as hot pepper oil, vinegar from banana, liquid fertilizer from sargassum, and paper from banana plants.

In the coming weeks, Smith will again share some of the successes with the nation that these students have made.

An existing outcome of his course was that two teams were able to produce 100% banana fiber paper. Jenilee Donis and Levi Shol created the specialty paper for use as gift bags, gift wrapping or invitations.

“Their product could be worked into new types of handicraft to sell to the 1.2 million tourists who visit Belize annually,” explains Smith.

The other team comprising of Rubicely Balan and Kenny Balan produced paper that was used to create paper drinking straws. It is know that currently there is a critical lack in the supply of paper straws on the international market. According to Professor Smith, 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,” he writes.

These enterprising students have shown that Belize does have the biologically-based products to create new specialty-and commodity-type products and that the young people have the drive to create them.

However, what is needed in Belize is the engineering capacity to assist these students to mass produce their innovations. As explained by Professor Smith in one of his posts, “Yes, the next step would be to get some industrial engineers to mechanize this. But industrial engineers would be very hard to find in Belize. Maybe we need to send a half-dozen young people to get scholarships to do industrial engineering in the UK, Germany, The Netherlands, The USA, Taiwan and Japan.”

Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2019 10:39