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Apr 19, 2023

Woman Farmer of the Year is Phenomenally Independent

Each year, the Ministry of Agriculture names a Woman Farmer of the Year to complement its new senior and junior winners. This year’s Woman Farmer of the Year, fifty-year-old Esmeralda Stanley, showed us today that she is not only deserving of the recognition, but that she is certainly self-sufficient. She lives by the mantra that whatever is conceived in the mind is possible to achieve. Stanley shared how moving from Honduras to Belize for a better life landed her a job as a fruit vendor in Belize City, but something changed. She wanted to plant the fruits she sold and worked on that dream.  News Five’s Marion Ali and videographer, Kenroy Michael visited Stanley Farm in Trio Village, Toledo today and filed this report.


Marion Ali, Reporting
Esmeralda Stanley was born in Honduras fifty years ago. But twenty-nine years later, she migrated to Belize in search of a better life. The single mother has found it in the wealth she has sewn for herself and her four young Belizean children, toiling on the farm she now owns in Trio Village. It has not been an easy road, as she explains, but when the opportunity presented itself, she seized the moment. It entailed having to move from Belize City where she managed a small fruit shop.

Esmeralda Stanley

Esmeralda Stanley, Female farmer of the Year
“In Belize City me work hard, so one time me have a fruit shop. I sell it the fruit and vegetable, so I see that everything is expensive. So one day I tell, ah me goh and produce this one day. Where? Me noh know. So the time pass. In 2016, I come visit Trio only. My kids in school, Central Christian School in Belize City, so when the school close, I come. I transfer my children, I come to Trio, so in 2017, me have this. This area nuh have nothing, only savanah.”

Stanley said she applied for the land that she occupies and started to plant a wide array of fruits and vegetables. Between 2017 and now, she has expanded the farm to include thirty-five acres of crops, including corn, rice, habanero pepper, anato, and an assortment of fruit trees. Added to those are the chickens and ducks that she also raises to sell in neighboring villages. But farming entails a lot of hard work. The area around the plants and trees need to be kept clean, and she does so manually with her machetes.

Esmeralda Stanley
“Me clean, only me and my machete, so I buy maybe 100 machetes. So when one machete finish, I go buy next (machete). When next machete finish or I nuh like the machete small. I like the big one to help more. So I chop and chop. Me chop maybe half a acre one day and put in plant. Chop next (area) put in plant. I get up every morning three-thirty for my – today no school. My kids at home so still me work.”
Stanley has not confined her planting skills to just fruits and vegetables. She says that she has discovered a herbal brew that deals with a number of health issues, particularly one that she was diagnosed with.

Esmeralda Stanley
“I plant medicinal moringa, and insulin for people who have sugar – insulin and have the medicine for cough, flu. It’s good medicine and I have the medicine for people who have cholesterol and the people have high blood pressure, or people have pressure and the people have the problem from the bone. So when we come from Belize, me have a big problem. The Medical Associates tell me I have sickle-cell anemia. So my bone is, (I) bawl bawl. I feel pain in my bone. Not right now, right now me good. So I drink this plant seven plant, cook, and drink and drink and drink. The pain gone.”

Aside from the money she earns by selling her fruits and vegetables, Stanley also finds the time to care for two other children besides her own. From the money she makes by selling her produce, she invests in their farmhouse she is trying to expand.


Esmeralda Stanley

“I sell the coconut water to buy the zinc and sell coconut sweet and everything me sell it to the things for my house. I put in the bucket on my bicycle, me goh on my bicycle and sell it. Sometimes I have lot of soursop, me put in two bucket full up of soursop and everyday me gone and sell it da Bella Vista or Mango Creek.”


She has also proven to be self-reliant in other physically challenging skills. When the need arose for her to find a water source for her home, she dug this twenty-foot-deep well all by herself, she says, and when she finished, she used a rope to pull herself back out. And now that she sees the need to add a shed to rest on hot summer days, she is doing so herself. For her, the successes she is starting to see were never part of the dream she had when she had just arrived here. Belize is now everything to her.


Esmeralda Stanley

“When me come, me nuh think me have wa farm, no. So when me and my husband live, I tell he, please, let’s go buy one house in the jungle. He said, no, why? So mi want live in the jungle. He said, no, too much mosquito. So one day, he gone da a next woman, so now me have it so I love more Belize now. So I have my Belizean children, I have this, wow! Never time I think that me go back Honduras, no, man. Never time me want go back, no. I like this. This is my country, my home, my everything.”


For this woman farmer of the year, nothing is impossible, as she has shown us in only a day’s visit at her farm.


Esmeralda Stanley

“En Spanish, como she dice, Si se puede.”


Marion Ali

“If you can do it.”


Esmeralda Stanley

“Yes, Si se puede. Yes. Strong woman.”


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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