Posted: Tuesday, April 11, 2023. 6:50 pm CST.
Photo Credit: MAFSE
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise’s (MAFSE) National Agriculture and Trade Show (NATS) Committee on Tuesday announced Adrian Bartley of Rockstone Pond, Belize District, as the 2023 Farmer of the Year.
In a MAFSE video, Bartley says he started farming during the pandemic to provide food for a feeding program in Belize City.
“We started in earnest about three years ago at the start of the pandemic,” Bartley told MAFSE.
“We had a feeding program in Belize City where we provided meals for families and individuals that needed it so we couldn’t get chicken. So, with my wife’s blessing and support, I came out here and started to hack at the forest.”
Bartley says the land which was owned by his mother Regina Martinez is about 14 acres. Mrs. Martinez passed away in 1990 and is buried at the farm. Bartley recounts that his family moved out of the land gradually and he returned with their blessing and the support of his wife to till the land.
“I came back here, and we started with chickens,” he said.
“We provided sufficient chickens to feed 900 people per month during the pandemic. And then for a little while in 2021, we had a bit of a drought. We couldn’t plant much. Finally, I got the well in. And then we started to plant bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, lettuce, the soursop trees, custard apple trees, and coconut trees. So that’s what we’re focusing on right now.”
Bartley says he sells his products at the Queen Square Market in Belize City and to some customers in Belmopan.
Senior Farmer of the Year – Adrian Bartley from the Belize District (Photo Credit: MAFSE)
“I would be lying if I told you that it was a walk in the park. It’s been real, you know, it’s been real. I’ve had days where I’m out there underneath the sun and I’m wondering what in the world I’m doing. But then we would plant our produce, then go to the market, and see our customers come and purchase our goods there, impressed by the quality, you know, and that gives me a sense of accomplishment and fuel to keep on going.
Bartley said that the cost of inputs such as feed and fertilizers went up during the pandemic and has presented challenges, so he has sought the help of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Every challenge that we’ve had, we just sit, and we pray about it. I’ve reached out to the Ministry of Agriculture. They’ve been really, really helpful to me, you know, in areas that I’m not as comfortable with or knowledgeable in. So, we’ve had challenges, we’re having challenges but with each challenge that we face we’ve risen to the occasion.”
Bartley said agriculture is hard work but gives him a lot of satisfaction.
“Agriculture is not for the faint of heart. It’s not a walk in the park but it’s a fight that’s worth fighting. The world is very unstable and for those that are young, I would encourage you to consider a life in agriculture. It is rewarding when you put your seed in the ground and you see something come up. And it’s even better after a long day of work and you have fresh food to eat. So, let’s see what the future brings, and I want to invite you all to get into the field of agriculture.”
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