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May 4, 2015

Thousands Converge on Agric Showgrounds

Thousands of Belizeans annually converge on Belmopan for the national agricultural and trade show, which was held over the weekend in the Old Capital. The three-day show celebrates agriculture, but over the years, the fair has also become a major event to spur economic activity for the private sector. This year, organizers improved the facilities and among the highlights was the announcement of the winning farmers of the year. Duane Moody was at the show grounds and has this report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The three-day event commenced on Friday and those in attendance would normally take advantage of the great deals on phones and other gadgets, furniture, as well as products and services offered by numerous companies.

 

But the event is also one for the family….an outing where they can enjoy the mechanical rides, or try some of the tasty cuisine available at the various food courts on the grounds. And then there were the sporting events including dirt bike riding, the rodeo for the seniors and juniors as well as zip-lining, which was a first at the show grounds.

 

Visibly so, there were several infrastructural changes that would ease the congestion and flow of traffic on the grounds. Chair, Roberto Harrison, says that the new facilities, which include a station for the police, are part of a two-year strategy.

 

Roberto Harrison

Roberto Harrison, Chair, NATS

“There is a development plan of the grounds. It started two years ago. This year we managed to do quite a bit of what we had intended to do—permanent structures that can last its time, but also strategic. For example in front of us we have a food court, we have hotdog stands now; pavilions for different purposes—entrepreneurs, foods, agricultural displays. So a lot of the infrastructural development is happening over time and the comments we get from people is that there is improvement from previous years. There’s four main gates open to pedestrians as well so we are quite strategic with what we are doing on the grounds.”

 

Several N.G.O.s and schools also participated at the Agric…including OCEANA and the University of Belize. This year, the national university brought out a business class and tested its students on their marketing skills; the project would count for thirty-five percent of their final grades.

 

Teresita Juan

Teresita Juan, Business Science Student, UB

“It also helps to give us a little insight on what it is to engage with people, engage with customers and that’s what’s really exciting. So we learn a lot from them as well as our customers get to learn a lot from us. So what we are engaging is “Oh Snap;” it’s a Polaroid photo service. And we have a special promotion so a Polaroid is four dollars; take two and you get a free necklace.”

 

But the Agricultural Show could not be without horseback riding and a livestock display. Another big feature is the winners of farmers of the year. The select process starts in January. Eighteen candidates were shortlisted and then the best female, best male and best junior farmers are selected. This year all three titles were won by farmers in the Cayo District.

 

Fay Garnett

Fay Garnett, District Agricultural Coordinator, Cayo

“Well a lot of the farmers now in the Cayo district have really been investing lot in their farming system. The issue of climate change is an important one for us now; proper soil management, even looking at more sustainable practices; those are some of the things that the farmers are much more aware of now. The extension officers are working a great deal in terms of trying to get them into farm groups and meeting with them, discussing all these issues. A lot of them for example, you might look at the crops and say they are a little bit big or unusual. This is simply because now, we have learned over years how to manage these crops properly. We look at better fertilizer programs, we look at incorporating things like organic compost, bio-fertilizers and we also look at irrigation, which is something that we know that now we experience these long drought periods so the irrigation allows farmers to produce throughout the year. And the quality is improved at the same time.”

 

The farmers of the year were Jose Lewis Uk from Calla Creek Village, Esmeralda Escobar from La Gracia and junior, Dean Tzib from San Antonio. Duane Moody for News Five.

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