By William Ysaguirre
Approximately 34,000 Belizeans participated in this year’s National Agricultural and Trade Show, held last weekend in Belmopan.
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, this year’s attendance was about 19 percent lower than last year’s 42,000 participants, but considering the inclement weather that proceeded the two-day event, some observers still say that this year’s turnout was relatively good.
The show has also become more trade than agriculture oriented in recent years, a trend the agriculture ministry has sought to change by refurbishing the show grounds last year, with permanent roofed pavilions with concrete flooring, where the Agriculture Departments from all six districts showcased the best produce from the farmers of each district.
Trade also stepped down, as some major corporate exhibitors of previous years were conspicuous by their absence.
Others stepped in to fill the breach as the Belize importers of the St. Lucian lager, Kubuli Beer, introduced a new product onto the Belizean market: Kubuli Gold in the 355 ml aluminium can, which, when marketed for $3.00 each, offered a better bargain than the local Belikin in the 275ml bottle.
This year’s show organizers arranged for all sellers of alcoholic beverages and beer to be corralled in one area, making it easier for law enforcement officers to control those guests who might imbibe more than their limit.
The Wood Shop of Belmopan also offered an innovative line of value-added pine lumber products such as lawn furniture, picnic tables and swings, as well as kiln-dried, pressure treated lumber in an assortment of grades and sizes.
Hoover Oilfield supply Ltd has been supplying equipment to oil exploration companies in Belize for a number of years. This year marked their debut at the agric show.
Marie Sharpe’s pepper sauces and Hot Mama’s pepper sauces have become Belizean household names and have expanded with considerable success into international markets.
The producers of Northern Heat pepper sauce hope to emulate this success with their new product launched at the show.
Many farmers are now branching out into value-added products from their farm, with jams, jellies, wines and other preserves
Cacao growers are now producing chocolate, and it is a trend the agriculture department is encouraging: for farmers to become involved in agri-business and agro-processing.
The thrust is to help farmers enjoy a secure and enhanced income from their labors, to ensure that farming continues to attract young people to the profession and ensure the food security of the nation.