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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 businesses.
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