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Apr 14, 2023

Junior Farmer of the Year: Engaging in What You Love Keeps You Happy

The Junior Farmer of the Year, 2023 is twenty-three-year-old Axel Perez, of Cristo Rey Village, Corozal. Perez, a sixth form graduate, shared that he has had to make sacrifices to see successes, but also says that because he has found a level of peace and joy in farming, it is really not a means of income but a hobby for him. The farmer told us how agriculture pulled him through one of his darkest moments in his young life. News Five’s Marion Ali filed this report on the Junior Farmer of the Year.


Marion Ali, Reporting 

If you visit the opening of the National Agriculture and Trade Show in the next couple weekends, you’ll likely see Axel Perez, this year’s Junior Farmer of the Year. He owns and manages a nine-acre farm in Yo Chen Village, next door to Cristo Rey where he lives. He plants cabbages, carrots, onions, sweet peppers and tomatoes – vegetables that he says are most in demand. But while this young sixth form graduate has had farming influences from an early age, it was a very dark moment in his life that made him discover the peace he needed to cope with life.


Axel Perez

Axel Perez, Junior Farmer of the Year, 2023

“I was going through a bad stage of my life when I was 20 years and I found a comfort right here in agriculture and I have dedicated my three years right now and I have been, I have seen good progress, but I’m trying to, to go more into other crops like the cauliflower and broccoli and Bok  Choy and all that stuff to fill the market.”


A regular day in the life of a farmer is what a challenging day would be for most of us, just by listening to Perez.


Axel Perez

“What we basically do in the morning is to spray the weeds, to do weed control, so our plants could grow in clean areas during the period of 7 to 10. We try to (put) on our water pumps for the irrigation system. So, we water our plants like approximately 45 minutes to one hour. And throughout that period we could add some fertilizers to our plants. We check our plants if we need to spray for, let’s say white flies for the tomatoes, pests, or any fungi. Yeah. And later we throw out, uh, the period of five to six or four to six. We try to spray these plants because of these chemicals, which are – they are hot, when we mix them with some fertilizer, it’s hot, so we try to spray them at that time. So the weather is kind of cool.”


Perez has not limited his skills to vegetables. His farm also produces honey.


Axel Perez

“At the moment I have two apiaries with a total of 12 boxes, and the rest I have at another location. And due to this project, I started to do my own boxes, and well, I got into carpentry, and this is what gives me a bit of.”


But a lot of what Perez earns will need to be invested in different methods of farming because of climate change. His farm was not spared last onion crop.


Axel Perez

“So this year we had great lasts in onion whereby, this change of weather affects greatly our production, so, we have hopes on our onions, but as you can see, we have lost almost everything.”


Marion Ali

“What caused it? What about the climate?”


Axel Perez

“Where it rains and the next day, sunshine, that is what causes some crops to die.”


Perez is hoping that he could win a scholarship to broaden his horizons, so he could return home and help farmers through his expertise.


Axel Perez

“Maybe it could be an engineer agronomist or more into the business section. But yeah, I’m working right now to get some help for scholarship. And I’m in the process of it right now because I have seen many individuals going to study, but they come in the country and make it for their own benefit, and they don’t – they leave aside the farmers. So basically the farmers need the help of these individuals because here out in the field we have tough times.”


Perez’ success proves that hard work pays off and he encourages his peers that they can be as successful at whatever they make their career.


Axel Perez

“Start in looking for what they like the most because if you don’t like something, you will never achieve what you want. So you have to engage in what you like, so it won’t be a stress, and you will be happy every day.”


Marion Ali for News Five.

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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