Belize Camping Experience (BCE) is a Christian ministry which has been working with children mainly from Southside Belize City since 2012 by hosting summer camps for them. One programme of BCE is Harvest for Kids, an initiative spearheaded by Alexander Perez. Perez approached farmers who donate land, seed, and combines to plant agricultural crops, reap them, and sell them, using the proceeds for the summer camps and other programs for the children. There have been a number of large harvests over the past few years and this past Saturday, another 40 acres of corn were harvested in Central Farm donated by the Government of Belize for the crop planting and harvesting.
Reporter: It’s how many years now?
Alexander Perez: Harvest For Kids Director:
It was 2012 we did our first harvest right at Banana Bank with John Carr. We were harvesting and we started with 20 acres of corn and it was a very good harvest.. I remember John lend us the land twice a year and then after that other farmers have been donating different spot of land. Like this year we didn’t know where we were going to get land because a farmer to give 20 is a big chunk. Somehow we got together with the Minister of Agriculture and Central Farm said you know what we have some four horses and such and such and we have 40 acres, let’s give it to you guys. And that ‘s what we end up with , when we went to look at the 40 acres of land they had a little bit of pasture and that ‘s what we planted so we really thankful that Central Farm gave us 40 acres.
Some 200 persons attended the event where 9 combines rolled through the corn fields leaving only two rows of corn standing so that the bus load of children from inner city Belize could get the experience of picking corn off the stalk. Josee Gongora; volunteer development, spoke about the weekend’s harvesting.
Josee Gongora; volunteer development:
On June 17 of this year we planted 40 acres of corn and it was all designated for Belize Camping Experience for next year’s camp and visitation to the schools. This Saturday we had a bus full of kids along with some parents and some teachers going over to see how a corn harvest happens. It was beautiful. We saw nine combines lined up and being escorted by the traffic police and it was like a parade of big machines there and it was just so amazing and all the people were like how can you get nine combines together. We’re like it’s not us . They are all uniting for one purpose. Since it was nine combines it took about an hour. It happened pretty fast and you know the combines left two rows of corn just for the kids so the kids could run inside and just harvest the corn traditionally. They pulled the corn and they were all itching afterwards and it was beautiful to see the kids doing that and not only that but in the end, also while they were harvesting, the farmers let some kids go inside the combines along with the driver and just experience something new. A lot of people were there, about 200 people. Seeing this beautiful harvest and it was dry but we believe that God wants to bless Belize through our kids and that’s why we had corn.
As has been reported, the country of Belize has been experiencing drought and it has definitely impacted various crops, but according to BCE director Alexander Perez, even with drought, they managed to
harvest 40 bags per acre.
Alexander Perez: Harvest For Kids Director:It’s really difficult when you go to a farmer and he lose everything. I don’t really have words to say, just to stay quiet and to say to them that God is good even though there is not a crop. Now when we start harvesting the corn here in Central Farm we were not expecting to get much because it was very dry. The corn was dying. Matter of fact, the harvest came earlier. We weren’t expecting it but it just got dry that the corn just dried up and you know God is so good. We still got 40 sacks per acre. And when we were harvesting, the farmers and myself we jumped high in the air and said, Lord you’re so good because in Orange Walk our soya beans they were dying off. They were literally dying off three weeks ago and I look at the soya beans and we haven’t paid the full expense of that crop. We only pay 20%. So, if the soya die, we are in debt because we have to pay off our expenses and the farmer looks to me and says, Alexander, everything is dying off. And I stand up right beside the farmer and I say, Albert, it’s all ok. If we have, God is good. If we don’t have, God is still good. But let’s trust in the Lord. The rain came late so the crop doesn’t look the best.
The proceeds from the sold corn will go to BCE for its continued work with the children. BCE’s next agricultural venture is in Orange Walk in November where they plan to harvest the soybean.