Mission & Background
The mission of the Citrus Research & Education Institute (CREI) is to work with citrus industry stakeholders to develop, implement and share technology that will lead to the establishment in Belize of productive and sustainable citrus farming systems.
Research into improving citrus production has been ongoing at the CREI site since 1962 when a station for the Citrus Research Unit of the University of West Indies was established. From 1967 citrus research and education in Belize have been the responsibility of the Research Unit of the Citrus Growers Association. In 1992 the Unit was renamed the Citrus Research & Education Institute and is internationally recognized for its work in tropical citrus research.
The fundamental philosophy underpinning all of CREI's work is that the starting point for any technology development is the knowledge and experience of the citrus grower. It is through the sharing of this experience and knowledge, CREI staff believes that significant improvements in grove productivity can be achieved. CREI's role in this process is to facilitate the sharing of information, working with growers to compare, contrast and document grove management techniques, techniques that grower experiences have shown really work under Belize conditions. CREI maintains good contacts with the 'wider citrus world', particularly in Central America, the Caribbean, California, Texas, Florida and Brazil; keeping up to date with the latest international developments in technology and understanding. Knowledge of these advances complements the development of local grove management practices.
To achieve its Mission, CREI's work is focused on the following top-five priorities:
Increasing production through improved grove nutrition The provision of healthy and improved planting material The provision of information and training Control of pests and diseases Improved grove management practices.
The majority of funding for CREI's work comes from the citrus growers of Belize through deductions from each box of citrus that is processed by the factory.
Six cents is deducted from growers' payments for CREI's core programmes (around Bz$354,000 for Extension & Research, Nursery Certification (BCCP), Disease Diagnosis (graft transmissible), Budwood Supply, Publications & Website programmes).
Two cents is deducted (and an additional 1c/cx provided by CPBL) for the Mexican fruit-fly control programme (totally around Bz$176,000).
Eight cents deducted for the programme to control HLB-greening disease and for the surveillance for CTV and exotic diseases such as citrus leprosis virus, citrus canker, and citrus variegated chlorosis. From the 2008/09 crop year, growers have agreed to provide this additional amount of totally to around Bz$471,000.
WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature - provides CREI with Bz$18,000 a year for work to improve weed control in the industry through the use of cover crops in citrus groves.
Some additional funding is obtained from grants from donor organizations to assist with the provision of equipment for programme implementation and training of staff.