WASHINGTON, D.C., July 28, 1998 --- The International
Finance Corporation has signed an agreement to invest up to US$6 million
in a project to strengthen shrimp farming as an industry and a foreign
currency earner for Belize.
The loan will finance the expansion of a shrimp farm operated by NOVA Companies
Ltd., a shrimp exporting company in Belize, as well as the construction
of a shrimp hatchery by Ambergris Aquaculture Ltd. of Belize. The project
will expand NOVA’s shrimp exports, particularly to the U.S. market.
NOVA operates a 225-hectare shrimp farm and processing plant north of Belize
City. The US$15.2 million project will triple the shrimp growing area and
add an in-house hatchery to produce 100 million postlarvae per month. There
will be better regulation of biosecurity, increased production, and the
profit margin is forecast to increase by 19 percent. The expansion and
new facility will create 85 new jobs, a significant factor in an economy
with close to 25 percent unemployment.
By developing shrimp aquaculture as an alternative export industry, the
project is helping to diversify Belize's economic base, said Tei Mante,
Director of IFC’s Agribusiness Department. The project is important, too,
because the increase in NOVA’s production capacity and exports to the
United States will increase the level of foreign exchange for the country.
IFC supports competitive local industries and in particular, the development
of small and medium enterprises such as this project. IFC, part of the
World Bank Group, fosters economic growth in the developing world by financing
private sector investments, mobilizing capital in the international financial
markets and providing technical assistance and advice to governments and