By William G. Ysaguirre
The Farmers of the Year received a plethora of prizes in a ceremony at the National Agriculture and Trade show this morning.
At the opening ceremony on Friday evening Minister of State for Agriculture Hugo Patt sashed the three farmers: senior farmer Felix Esquivel of the Corozal district, woman farmer Angelica Dubon, and junior farmer Dieni Jones of the Cayo district.
Prosser Fertilizer gave each farmer $500, IICA gave each $150, OIRSA gave each $300; while others followed a formula of $500 for Senior, $300 for Female and $200 for Junior. These included the La Inmaculada Credit Union, Social Security Board, Citrus Products of Belize, Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and Westrac. Caribbean Chicken also gave each winning farmer 50 pounds of chicken and other businesses sponsored gift certificates.
Felix Esquivel, a father of four sons and two daughters, has been farming over 24 years. He had won Junior farmer of the year in 1990. Today at 45, he works a 130-acre farm near Consejo Village, Corozal.. He has 60 head of cattle grazing 30 acres of pasture, and has recently diversified into poultry production. He also produces honey and pollen, and is a major producer. His life-long dedication to farming has provided his family a secure income and helped him to educate his children, two of whom are now in 6th form.
Angelica Dubon works a 70-acre farm in Yemeri Grove, 10 miles from Punta Gorda Town in the Toledo district. At 66 years of age, she has been farming since 1969, and had won Woman Farmer of the year in 1997. She has 61 head of cattle grazing 60 acres of improved pasture and also raises pigs and chickens for sale. She has one dairy cow from which she draws milk to make local white cheese and cream for sale at her roadside shop where she sells all her produce. She also has seven acres of fruit orchards which she has planted in oranges, papaya, mangoes, star apples, and an assortment of tropical grits. She also assorted vegetables planted out. She has integrated the latest innovative technologies into her farm, which she has worked full time since 1995.
Dieny Jones, 20 has been helping his father work their family farm for the past six years. He works a 60 acre farm on which he manages the production of vegetables: carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage and sweet peppers, to name but a few. He also has acres planted in corn, beans and fruit.