One month later, still no results for crop destruction at Valley of Peace

It has been almost a month since a little over thirty-five acres of vegetables were destroyed in the Valley of Peace community.  The destruction, it is strongly believed, is the result of crop dusting conducted by Green Tropics Limited, a foreign concern which manages a vast swath of farmland nearby.  In the wake of the incident, the Valley of Peace Farmers Association has gone on record to state that its membership has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in seasonal produce.  While samples of withered vegetable leaves have been sent to El Salvador for testing to determine whether the wizening of greenery was indeed caused by Roundup, the farmers are growing irate with the lengthy delay in the process.  This afternoon, News Five confirmed that after three weeks the specimens still have not been tested.  In fact, the samples sat in customs for over a week before finally being cleared for entry into El Salvador.  To make matters worse, the actual testing will not be done until April twenty-first.

Via Phone: Roberto Harrison, Chief Agricultural Officer

Roberto Harrison

“As you well know, the samples were sent the end of March and at some point we realized that there was some problems with the release of the samples out of Salvador.  There were some paperwork that, there were some extra paperwork that they were requesting and that in fact has delayed the release of the samples of the customs of Salvador.  With the pending Easter break that Salvador has those samples will not be done until the twenty-first of April.  The samples are still in good conditions and we are just hoping that we can get those results back as soon as possible.  Otherwise, all other specimens that we have done preliminary samples on, is again, we have mentioned before, we have made some comparative analysis comparing same damage to similar crops and those came out similar in that sense.  But again, without the lab analysis we would not be able to make that confirmatory position that in fact the damage was done as a result of Roundup spraying, you know.”

Isani Cayetano

“Has there been a meeting with the farmers of the Valley of Peace area to allay their concerns that there has been what they consider to be some foot dragging with regards to this matter?”

Via Phone: Roberto Harrison

“I met with them briefly a week ago and when we thought that we would have gotten the samples quick, in fact they are aware of what we are doing and I don’t think that there is any dragging of feet in this sense.  We are doing our best.  We did our best to resolve the issue of the paperwork that was required or the extra paperwork that was required by the Salvador authorities.  So I think that they are being kept abreast, we ourselves are a little bit concerned about the time that we are taking to get this out but nonetheless, we are hopeful that come the week of the twenty-first of April we should be able to get those analyses back.”

Produce from the Valley of Peace Farmers Association supplies seventy-five percent of the local markets in Cayo and Belize City.

Channel 5