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Buccama farmers singing blues

Buccama farmers singing blues

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On Valentine’s Day fiery emotions and frank expressions were evident at Buccama on the Bay as well as a high level of diplomacy.

From all indications this was not a lovers affair, rather it was a heated discussion between 10 farmers of the Cane Grove Farmers’ Group and a committee from the National Investment Promotions Inc (NIPI).

The meeting was held to discuss the proposed development of the Buccament Valley and to provide farmers with an opportunity to address any issues, concerns or queries on the proposed project.{{more}}

But after three hours and a half of discussions the meeting ended in a stalemate.

The contentious issue that sparked fury from some farmers relates to a proposal by European investors, Man Investments in conjunction with a group from Barbados, to build a multi-million dollar 100-room cabana project on 26 acres of land around the central part of Buccament.

Some of the farmers own these lands while others lease, and have vowed to die before they give up their lands. Minister of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Physical Planning, and Lands and Surveys, Senator Julian Francis and other senior civil servants however moved to allay their fears that they will not be adequately compensated.

Francis told the farmers that he understood their passion for the lands but pointed out to them that the government felt it necessary to change from farming and invest in tourism in the picturesque valley, since tourism is the country’s main income earner.

Edmond Jackson, Chairman of National Investment Promotions Inc, told the famers while there was a policy in the past to develop Buccament, there was nothing concrete with any investor hence it would have been premature to meet with the farmers.

“Maybe we were wrong but we felt it was premature to do so,” said Jackson.

Remarks on the issue also came from Chief Surveyor, Adolphus Ollivierre, Chief Agricultural Officer, Philmore Isaacs and Executive Director, National Investment Promotions Inc, Suzanne Joachim.

“If the land is good for our survival, it is good for us to die for. I feel as if I can get a bullet right now,” said a farmer.

“Tell the investor Buccament is not available for investment,” remarked another famer. This was rejected by Francis.

While some farmers remained disgruntled, others expressed the desire to have the investors incorporate them in their project.

Before the meeting ended Francis said when the Government meets with the investors on Thursday, February 16, he was going to indicate to them that there were persons who were unhappy about the changing of ownership of the lands. He noted the issue of compensation would also be one of the subjects to be discussed.

He promised to meet with the farmers again to further discuss the issue.

Francis however expressed dissatisfaction that some farmers were using the meeting to settle old political scores.

Others were rebuked for threatening violence.

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