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Apr 12, 2022

Breaking the Bias in Agriculture: Luanne Manzanero

One woman is redefining what it looks like to manage thousands of acres of farmland in the Cayo District. Luanne Manzanero is breaking the bias in a male dominated field as farm manager at the Valley of Peace Farms Limited. It has been an uphill battle for Manzanero to solidify her position as a leader among men. But, with time and persistent dedication, she continues to prove what she already knew; women can do whatever they put their minds to. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

More and more women are stepping into roles that were once reserved for men in most cultures.  Take Luanne Manzanero for example. She manages over five thousand acres of developed farm land at the Valley of Peace Farms Limited. On the job, she oversees a team of fifty workers, all men.


Luanne Manzanero

Luanne Manzanero, Farm Manager, Valley of Peace Farms Ltd.

“The morning meeting typically runs from seven a.m. You guys got a glimpse of it this morning. So it is basically all our managers and supervisors who come to that meeting. We run through what needs to be done, all our daily tasks for the day, what needs to get accomplished. It is also to know what everybody needs or may need, and just to know everybody’s location as well.”


After the day begins with the morning meeting, teams are dispatched to various locations across the farm. It has not been an easy road for Luanne, to get where she is today. She studied at U.W.I. in Trinidad and returned to Belize an accomplished academic in the field of Tropical Crop Protection and Pathology.  But the job she landed in Belize was at a call center. This is after quickly discovering that jobs in Belize are not easy to come by, especially not for a young woman in agriculture.


Luanne Manzanero

“It always stayed on the back of my mind that I really want to do something different, something that I want to do. So, I kept on applying. However, it is very hard for women to get into agriculture, depending where you want to go and work. It is more challenging for women than men.”


Paul Lopez

“So what is the greatest challenge in it when it comes to women seeking employment in this area?”


Luanne Manzanero

“It is seen as a man’s position. In agriculture you always expect to see a man in the position, a man in the seat, a man running the show, and that is the biggest gap you have to fill. Trust me, you coming to see me at the farm, some people are like you are the manager, ok, ok, alright.”


When Luanne initially applied for the job she currently has, her employer hired a male farm manger. But, six months later they called her to work as an assistant to the farm manager. A year after that, Luanne proved to her employer that she was competent enough to become the company’s farm manager.


Paul Lopez

“How do you feel about that? Do you feel like you had to prove yourself more because you are a woman or equally because you are an employee seeking to fill a position?”


Luanne Manzanero

“Both, because you want to show why you can do the job and secondly why you are a woman that can do the job, when there are so many other people that can step in easily and be like I can run this.”


We joined Luanne in the sugarcane field where she gave us a lesson on growing and harvesting.


Luanne Manzanero

“After we harvest, we then burn. After we burn the field, we then go ahead and we fertilize. After fertilizing we usually rip. Ripping is an implement that goes into the ground. It helps with drainage. After ripping we go ahead we dirt work. We have our shoulder cutting that comes into play. Our shoulder cutting helps shape the rows that helps to cut down the rows, shape the rows and we row build. After we row build we basically finish all our activities with sugar cane. But, the row building that helps for, you saw those nice rows built and everything, the main thing for sugar cane is drainage and just getting those furrows in.”


We also got a chance to witness her teams harvesting white corn which will be trucked to storage.


Luanne Manzanero

“Right now we are harvesting corn. We have about seventy acres of white corn harvesting. Had to harvest early cause we had some weather last week, and it came with a lot of strong winds that knocked down some of our corn. About ten to fifteen percent of at least one of the fields that is high up We decided we are going to cut that out and get that dried one time. It is going to cost a bit more, but you want to make sure you have a product at the end of the day and not lose anything. We went ahead and did our corn samples and moisture test for the rest of the samples and it appears that everything was ready. So we have a whole week of harvest.”


Luanne’s message is that women can do anything they want to do if they put their minds to it.


Luanne Manzanero

“I believe that they can do anything they put their minds to. If you look at it, we have women in the military. We have women who do triathlons, one of the hardest things in the world to do. We have women who can drive tractors, trust me. So, if you look at it in the other jobs, we have women hikers, women in all the different work places. As long as you put your mind to it you can do anything you want to do.”


Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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