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May 3, 2016

The National Agriculture & Trade Show 2016

The National Agriculture and Trade Show took place over the weekend at the show grounds in Belmopan. The annual event drew thousands looking for deals in goods and services. This year, the traditional was offered complemented by a mix of new products in a wide range of items such as chocolates, jams, sauces, beauty products and much more. News Five’s Duane Moody was in Belmopan and has the following report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Thousands of Belizeans converged on the National Agriculture and Trade Showground in Belmopan this weekend as the 2016 Agric Show got underway. Every year, nationals would travel from across the country to take advantage of the many deals that are offered by various companies; from phones and gadgets from companies including Smart, BTL and Go Wireless to offers on items such as toiletries and juices. And then there are those who make the event a family outing – to taste the different foods available on the grounds and the many different activities for the entire family.

 

As the day progressed with the trading of goods and services, we came across a group of local producers with their unique Belizean products. Skincare, processed foods, such as jams, and beauty products were on display at this pavilion organized by the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service, BELTRAIDE.

 

Mike Hernandez

Mike Hernandez, Senior Communications/Liaison Officer, BELTRAIDE

“We are here in support of our young entrepreneurs. As you know BELTRAIDE has various units. One of them is the Small Business Development Center which is geared specifically at supporting young entrepreneurs and providing them with the necessary training so that they can be competitive. And so we have several of them here present. As you can see quite a wide variety; from chocolates to beauty products, pepper sauces, tambranero and products from New Jerusalem and essentially she has some repellants and so on.”

 

The south was well represented with Maya Center’s famous Che’il Chocolate by the Saqui family.  Aside from the variety in chocolate products, the Saqui’s took the opportunity to debut its newest product, a chocolate tea with all its health benefits.

 

Julio Saqui

Julio Saqui, Che’il Chocolate

“People have been coming, their asking, their seeing, their tasting; we’ve got some chocolate for them to taste because some of them have never seen a pod itself. Some of them don’t even know that Belizeans do make chocolate. I’ll tell you what, we make fine, high end quality chocolate and we got it here all at the Agric. We want people to come in, we want them to try it; let them take some to their families and friends and let them enjoy what Belize can do. As you can see, on our label, it says a taste of real Belizean chocolate; that’s what it is. Today we have chocolate bars in both dark—which is more healthier for you—and then we have the milk chocolate as well, which is more sweeter with regular chocolate that you’ll find. We also have cacao nibs which is the heart of the chocolate; we have cocoa powder, we have instant chocolate drink. And then the newer one that nobody is making in Belize except us is the cacao tea, which is made from the thinner shell of the actual bean itself. Very healthy, lot of chocolate flavor, but think about the health benefits—the antioxidants, the antidepressants, the proteins the magnesium…all of it is in this tea.”

 

If you are not from the city and haven’t had the chance to taste the amazing sauce at Fibbers on Cemetery Road, you had an opportunity at the Agric. Co-Owners Eloim Ellis and Hortence Young were out giving everyone a sample of their secret sauce.

 

Eloim Ellis

Eloim Ellis, CO-Owner, Fibbers Sauce

“We have the original Fibbers Sauce and we also have the hot and spicy; these are two amazing sauces made here in Belize.”

 

Duane Moody

“Talk to us about the sauce. What’s special about it?”

 

Eloim Ellis

“What is special about this sauce? This sauce is unique; it’s the only of its kind. It is a multipurpose sauce that can be used on so many things. It is a great substitute for ketchup, for barbecue sauce, also for dressings for salads. And we hope that every Belizean get the opportunity to try it.”

 

Duane Moody

“How has the reception been?”

 

Eloim Ellis

“It has been amazing. We’ve had people that had tried the sauce from Corozal all the way to Punta Gorda…great feedback. They are asking us to get it in the supermarkets in the different districts so that they can get access to it.”

 

The agriculture industry is a huge revenue generator for the country. In the south, the citrus industry started back in 1913 with the first citrus plantation, before expanding with its first processing plant in Pomona Village, Stann Creek almost seventy years ago. This industry exports citrus products to several international markets and provides hundreds of jobs in the south. But did you know that there were thirty varieties of citrus fruits?

 

Luis Tzul, Citrus Growers Association

“We have two booths out here…we have one for Citrus Growers Association where we display all the services that we provide and then we have the second group that’s the plant world nursery. There is where we do the certified plants for the industry. Plant World Nursery is located on the road to Red Bank and it’s a commercial nursery with the capability of producing up to four hundred thousand plants per year. We have the different varieties here; the main one is Valencia oranges and marsh grapefruit, which is what the industry needs. But we have lemons, we have limes, we have mandarins, other grapefruits; we have ortaniques, tanjoes. We have about thirty varieties of citrus.”

 

But the agric show has had its own share of its incidents. Last year, a man was stabbed on the head with a knife and died following an altercation on the ground. Luckily this year, there were no serious crimes, but the Emergency Medical Technicians were out at the ground strategically smacked in the center of the grounds to provide assistance to the many visitors of the Agric. EMT Darwin Slusher says that cases of hydration and exhaustion abounded.

 

Darwin Slusher

Darwin Slusher, EMT Intermediate, Belmopan Emergency Services

“The crew and the ambulances are here to provide first and foremost emergency medical support in the event we have a trauma or a medical patient. We’ve been here from the opening of the grounds on Friday and we decided to bring a little bit of our equipment along with our units and our staff. As you know, the heat in Belize is pretty on these days and so we are advising the general public to stay hydrated and replace back electrolytes that they may lose. So far, we have had minor emergencies, but no fatalities which is good. We’ve had quite a number of people coming to us complaining of tiredness and on assessment we actually find them suffering from severe dehydration which could have led to a heatstroke. So what we did was to do immediate interventions. All our staff was fully trained and so they were able to administer some IV therapy which assisted them and then transported them to the nearest facility, which is the Western Regional Hospital. So yes, we have been busy in that aspect. We had one trauma incident; nothing of serious concern.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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