Belle Vue farmers, businessman face off over land dispute

first_imgA warm and quiet Sunday afternoon was ignited after Police were called to the Bellevue, West Bank Demerara area after a popular businessman and several farmers of the Bellevue Co-op Society faced off over a farming land dispute. The farmers contended that they, and their predecessors, have cultivated cane from 1956 to 2016 under a co-operative arrangement following an initial Bookers contract.The fences erected that are at the seat of contentionHowever, when the Wales Sugar Estate ceased operations by the end of 2016, the farmers petitioned Government to be allowed to cultivate diversified crops as their original contracts disallowed them from doing so. They indicated that after President David Granger granted the approval, they opted to begin planting in 2017. However, according to the Bellevue farmers, they are being bullied for the land.Farmer Francis FerreiraWhen Guyana Times arrived on the scene on Sunday, a fence with barbed wire was seen along a section adjacent to the Bellevue Public Road. Further checks revealed that there were also further partitions along other sections, including one blocking the entrance on a reserved space for a dam along which machines could be driven to clean waterways.According to some of the aggrieved men, the fences were erected last week, and they could not freely access their farmlands. They said also that the businessman allowed cows to graze in the crops which would hinder a return on investment.The aggrieved Bellevue farmers during the face off on SundayYoung farmer Satesh Rajpat, whose great-grandparents were among the original farmers in the Bellevue Pilot Scheme, told this newspaper that the inner fence is blocking persons from their farmland in the second field. He added that his cassavas and ochro plants, among others, were damaged owing to drainage works allegedly carried out by the businessman.“To plough this place alone cost me $200,000 to pay people and for diesel for my tractor,” the farmer explained.He also observed that several of his pineapple plants were damaged owing to an excavator that was allegedly driven across his field.Police had to be called in to quell tensionsFellow cash crop farmer, Lloyd Millington highlighted the struggle to move on to other crops and is hopeful for the authorities to intervene so that his plantains and other crops are preserved. Another veteran farmer, Francis Ferreira, who cultivates corn, was also present at Sunday’s standoff. He told Guyana Times that following a previous dispute since 2009, he was provided with Cabinet minutes from 2010 minutes which allowed some of the displaced farmers to be reinstated to their land.During the standoff, Police arrived stating they were present to ensure law and order was maintained. The Station Sergeant at Wales Police Station, who was passing at the time, was stopped and informed of the tensions that had escalated. Guyana Times understands both sides have been making reports to Police, with the businessman accusing the famers of employing measures to startle and chase his cows.The farmers in a missive called on Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott and Government officials to have meetings with them to settle the issue. Efforts to contact the Minister by this newspaper did not yield success. However, the farmers went on the state that last week the businessman was told not to destroy crops which include saime, pumpkin, carilla, cassava, and corn.“Since Wales Estate stop producing sugar at this factory, our members have been meeting regularly and we decided to go into other crop farming. Since 2017, over 40 of our 55 members in our co-op society have been doing other crop farming within four fields of our cultivation in phase one. Now we are ready to do phase two, that is to clean the other fields and do permanent crops, animals, chicken rearing, fish farm… but now we are being prevented from implementing our phase two… we need help and protection now,” the farmers outlined.The closure of the Wales Sugar Estate was seen a multiplicity off spin-off effects affecting not only workers and their families but farmers and those operating in the market area. The newspaper did not garner success in reaching Deodat Deokenandan on Monday.last_img

first_imgA warm and quiet Sunday afternoon was ignited after Police were called to the Bellevue, West Bank Demerara area after a popular businessman and several farmers of the Bellevue Co-op Society faced off over a farming land dispute. The farmers contended that they, and their predecessors, have cultivated cane from 1956 to 2016 under a co-operative arrangement following an initial Bookers contract.The fences erected that are at the seat of contentionHowever, when the Wales Sugar Estate ceased operations by the end of 2016, the farmers petitioned Government to be allowed to cultivate diversified crops as their original contracts disallowed them from doing so. They indicated that after President David Granger granted the approval, they opted to begin planting in 2017. However, according to the Bellevue farmers, they are being bullied for the land.Farmer Francis FerreiraWhen Guyana Times arrived on the scene on Sunday, a fence with barbed wire was seen along a section adjacent to the Bellevue Public Road. Further checks revealed that there were also further partitions along other sections, including one blocking the entrance on a reserved space for a dam along which machines could be driven to clean waterways.According to some of the aggrieved men, the fences were erected last week, and they could not freely access their farmlands. They said also that the businessman allowed cows to graze in the crops which would hinder a return on investment.The aggrieved Bellevue farmers during the face off on SundayYoung farmer Satesh Rajpat, whose great-grandparents were among the original farmers in the Bellevue Pilot Scheme, told this newspaper that the inner fence is blocking persons from their farmland in the second field. He added that his cassavas and ochro plants, among others, were damaged owing to drainage works allegedly carried out by the businessman.“To plough this place alone cost me $200,000 to pay people and for diesel for my tractor,” the farmer explained.He also observed that several of his pineapple plants were damaged owing to an excavator that was allegedly driven across his field.Police had to be called in to quell tensionsFellow cash crop farmer, Lloyd Millington highlighted the struggle to move on to other crops and is hopeful for the authorities to intervene so that his plantains and other crops are preserved. Another veteran farmer, Francis Ferreira, who cultivates corn, was also present at Sunday’s standoff. He told Guyana Times that following a previous dispute since 2009, he was provided with Cabinet minutes from 2010 minutes which allowed some of the displaced farmers to be reinstated to their land.During the standoff, Police arrived stating they were present to ensure law and order was maintained. The Station Sergeant at Wales Police Station, who was passing at the time, was stopped and informed of the tensions that had escalated. Guyana Times understands both sides have been making reports to Police, with the businessman accusing the famers of employing measures to startle and chase his cows.The farmers in a missive called on Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott and Government officials to have meetings with them to settle the issue. Efforts to contact the Minister by this newspaper did not yield success. However, the farmers went on the state that last week the businessman was told not to destroy crops which include saime, pumpkin, carilla, cassava, and corn.“Since Wales Estate stop producing sugar at this factory, our members have been meeting regularly and we decided to go into other crop farming. Since 2017, over 40 of our 55 members in our co-op society have been doing other crop farming within four fields of our cultivation in phase one. Now we are ready to do phase two, that is to clean the other fields and do permanent crops, animals, chicken rearing, fish farm… but now we are being prevented from implementing our phase two… we need help and protection now,” the farmers outlined.The closure of the Wales Sugar Estate was seen a multiplicity off spin-off effects affecting not only workers and their families but farmers and those operating in the market area. The newspaper did not garner success in reaching Deodat Deokenandan on Monday.last_img

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