General — 29 July 2014 — by Adele Ramos

It’s been weeks since we’ve heard anything about the land dispute involving the 32 farmers of the Valley of Peace area who had received eviction notices from Green Tropics, ordering them to vacate the premises by Tuesday, July 15, 2014. That date has passed and the farmers have not vacated the premises. That is because the parties may be on the road to finally resolving their dispute, with talks of a land concession by the company of 160 acres.

The farmers in question had said that by virtue of their long-standing and undisturbed occupation of the property, they are entitled to squatter’s rights. The farmers had also threatened suit against the company to recoup loss of cabbage crops after aerial spraying with a chemical known as Round-up ruined their crops. The parties are now trying to strike a peaceful accord to settle the dispute.

Last month, we reported to you that the company was offering the farmers a compensation package of $2,000 in cash, along with a communal deed to the Valley of Peace Association for 150 acres. However, the farmers – who claim squatter’s rights on the basis of occupation since the 1980s – were contending for 180 acres.

Andrew Marshalleck, SC, attorney for the farmers, told Amandala today that while a final accord has not yet been reached, they are hoping to have a formal agreement concluded as early as tomorrow.

Mikhael Arguelles, attorney for the company, told Amandala that they had sent over a draft agreement to the farmers for signing, and if the farmers are satisfied, they would sign and return the document for finalization.

According to Marshalleck, the farmers have agreed to relocate from their current location to one side of the canal, which the company wants to use to irrigate the sugar cane plantation that it intends to cultivate in the area now occupied by the 32 farmers.

He said that the company has agreed to prepare the 160-acre portion of land for the farmers, including the construction of the needed canals to irrigate their farms.

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