The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development through the Agriculture Department announces this year’s Farmers of the Year winners.

This year, the Farmers of the Year reign from the Cayo and Toledo Districts. The male farmer is Ever Blandon of Valley of Peace, Cayo District; the female farmer is Maria Lara of Trio Village, Toledo District; and the junior farmer is Eric Can Jr. of Succotz Village, Cayo District.

The National Agriculture and Trade show is an event which has been celebrated since the 1960's. The first one was held in El Cayo which is today known as San Ignacio. Later in 1972, the show moved to the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds in Belmopan and one of the most important highlights over the years has been the recognition of the Farmer of the Year.

Initially, there was only one farmer of the year, but as time progressed the categories for Female and Junior Farmer of the Year was included. This prestigious recognition is given to the selected farmers from the various districts in accordance with a set of criteria which are pre-established by the Ministry. The farmer is judged based on his adequate and exemplary farming practices, as well as his or her ability to demonstrate a good understanding of agriculture and its role as a means of income generation and sector development. Judges are required to visit the farms and the winners are selected based on the highest scores. The nomination starts as early as September and the actual announcement of the winners is done nearing the dates of the show.

Whilst faced with hard challenges as a result of climate change and high production costs, these farmers have been able to support themselves, their families and their communities by extension through the application of good agricultural practices. Some of the most significant practices have been the use of irrigation, fertigation, protective structures, cover crops, agroecological principles and good pesticides management.

The Ministry and its partners commit to continue to identify and work with farmers who are interested and willing to work under a participatory approach which is expected to contribute to national agricultural development in Belize.

Farmer of the Year

We often take for granted those fresh vegetables and fruits that you buy at the market. But for every shiny sweet pepper, every glowing tomato, and every full head of lettuce, someone had to wake up before dawn every morning for months to tend soil, and nurture the plant. That's the job of a farmer, and every year the Ministry of Agriculture gives the best of them special recognition. Junior Farmer Eric Can Jr. is one of them selected this year, and he spoke to the government press office about the passion that drives him to keep on farming.

Female Farmer of the Year was Maria Lara from Trio Village in the Toledo District; and Male Senior farmer was Ever Blandon from Valley of Peace.