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Apr 20, 2012

Maria Balan is the Female Farmer of the Year!

A mother of five has been named as this year’s Female farmer of the Year. The impressive woman hails from Bullet Tree, Cayo and keeps an extremely busy schedule.  When she isn’t growing vegetables at her farm, she is selling her produce at the market. This impressive farmer also finds time in her packed day to maintain her livestock. News Five’s Andrea Polanco caught up today with Maria Balan.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

For over twenty years, forty-eight year old Maria Balan, 2012 Female Farmer of the year has been farming in Paslow Falls in Bullet Tree Village. Balan, who is overjoyed at the new title, maintains two farms with a variety of vegetables:

 

Maria Balan, 2012 Female Farmer of the Year

Maria Balan

“Well, I wasn’t expecting that but e boys from Central Farm came and tell me. So I accepted. I didn’t expect that I was gonna win. Well I am happy because I win. I wasn’t expecting that, but I win and I am happy about that. I can tell the farmers of all San Ignacio, Cayo District make they work a little bit harder so maybe next year we have another one win in this area.  We started with a little bit of things like cabbage and tomatoes, little bit of sweet peppers, but right now I plant a lot of things.”

 

 Andrea Polanco

“Tell us about some of these things you have planted out here?”

 

Maria Balan

“Well right now, from December I was selling broccoli, cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, tomato, jabanero. And right now I have to start the carrots and jalapeno pepper, sweet pepper and tomato; just starting to ripe.”

 

Agriculture Officer, Mario Howe says that Balan’s diversified farming made her the female farmer of the year:

 

Mario Howe, Agriculture Officer, Cayo Extension

“Ms. Balan has been a candidate. We have selected her maybe twice in the past and until this year she has been successful for the winning as woman farmer for the year for the district.”

 

Andrea Polanco

Mario Howe

“What are some of the things that you look for in terms of a woman farmer of the year?”

 

Mario Howe

“Well I guess the farm has to be a diversified system of farm. In the case of Ms. Balan she concentrates her farm with the vegetables. She has a small livestock as well. She also adds value to her products in terms of like looking at the situation where the farm offers income to her. As you can see there, she is involved in processing cohune oil which is a very needed income to the family as well.”

 

Balan has been able to provide for her family through her farming. She plants at her three acre farm on Mondays, on Tuesday to Thursdays she plants at the two acre plot of land and then she goes to the market on Fridays and Saturdays to sell her produce:

 

Maria Balan

“Well, like how I plant a little bit of everything so when I go to the market if you no sell something good price, you sell the next things good price. Thanks god every time I go I sell everything.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So whatever you plant, you go and sell it yourself?”

 

Maria Balan

“Yes ma’am everything. I go Friday and Saturday to the market and sell it; that’s whole year.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“And from your farming, are you able to support your family; sustain your household?”

 

Maria Balan

“Yes ma’am, everything. I have given education to all my kids with only farming and up to now, thanks to go everything is going good.”

 

The Ministry of Agriculture had had gifted Balan with a greenhouse which she now uses to plant sweet pepper. Howe says it’s critical for farmers like Balan:

 

Mario Howe

“Miss Balan had been selected as one of the candidate noh where she can be a beneficiary of assistance through the Ministry of Agriculture and the funds and we identified her potential as she could be a good farmer to be provided with a cover structures. The way because it is very important because production of crops outside is very critical due to climatic changes because right now you can’t say it is a right time for dry weather, a right time for rainy season—it’s totally changed. High incidents of pests as well has been a problem so this thunder structure could alleviate to produce good under these system nuh.”

 

To maintain healthy crops Balan must employ a combination of methods. The presence of pests means the use of insecticides; to enrich the soil for planting she has been engaging in vermiculture, using these red Carolina worms for composting:

 

Mario Howe

“Miss Balan has a vermiculture unit. The worm actually tries to prepare the soil in a form that decomposes faster so that the farmer can use it back to his farm. So what she does is that after the warm decomposes everything, she used that soil to prepare the seedling and then the process continues noh.”

 

Balan says the best thing about farming is that she is her own boss on her five acres:

 

Maria Balan

“Well over here I have two acres and I have another farm that has three acres—I work here and there; two places.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What made you decide to go into farming?”

 

Maria Balan

“Well because farming is something good; it is easy work. You don’t have boss here; you are your only boss and you can work anytime you want, any day you want. That’s the easiest thing.”

 

Balan also does small scale making of cohune oil on the farm, which she bottles and sells at the market. This female farmer of the year also maintains a small livestock of cattle and sheep for personal consumption. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

The Agriculture and Trade Show takes place next weekend at the show grounds in Belmopan. 

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3 Responses for “Maria Balan is the Female Farmer of the Year!”

  1. drose flowers says:

    NEPOTISM AGAIN!!!
    SHE HAS A LOT OF FAMILY MEMBERS WORKING FOR MIN OF AGRICULTURE, HER BROTHER IN LAW WIFE WON LAST YEAR TOO, AND GUESS WHAT ? THEY ARE ALL FROM PASLOW FALLS IN BULLET TREE
    MEN!!! GIVE OTHERS A BREAK YOU PEOPLE FROM MIN OF AGRIC!!1

  2. PM says:

    dont be a hater drose flower, let the lady do her thing

  3. Karms says:

    Why are some people jealous. The woman has always worked hard to bring up a family who has been going through a lot. Her husband has been a cancer survivor. Hell mein. If her brother in law’s wife won, well guess what, she qualified. you get down to business and work hard to win. I wish you lots of luck.

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