IN response to your Saturday article titled “Minister Holder mandates agricultural agencies to resolve Belfield/Victoria farmers’ concerns” I wish to raise a few concerns of my own.
While it is truly welcoming to have a visit from the Honorable Minister Holder to listen to the concerns of the farmers in the Victoria/Belfield area, it would have been equally pleasing for the residents of the said area to have voiced their concerns too.
As a concerned resident of the Victoria/Belfield area, it should be known that we are made to suffer severely due the egotistical attitude displayed by the farmers, especially the rice farmers who have been farming in that area for as long as I can remember.
I am sure that the Honorable Minister was utterly surprised with the state of the Victoria/ Belfield access road he was made to travel on to see the farm lands.
The holes on this road are so huge that they serve as ponds for ducks and snakes when it rains. Residents using the road are forced to endure the puddles created by these rice farmers by way of combines and tractors, and the mud that falls from tractors and ploughs. If one wishes to get to work, school or church with tidy shoes, then he/she must be sure to walk with an additional pair to change or remember to have a cloth to clean the one they are wearing. Yes! School children and office workers are made to suffer such plight. We are made to walk in the long distance, since most taxi drivers refuse to take us in because of the damage being done to their vehicles, and the few that agree to take us in usually charge extra.
The road has been in such deplorable state for as long as I can remember and it continues to get worst as the farmers in the area frequently traverse there with their combines, tractors, heavy duty trucks and field ploughs. These vehicles start to utilise the road as early as 05:00hrs and can go as late as 23:00 hrs.
We, the villagers, are made to endure the noise being made by these heavy engines and the profanity of the farmers. Without any notice these rice farmers will visit their farms and administer chemical substances, which affect us severely. Babies and young children have been affected so much that it forces their parents to seek medical attention for them. Children are made to suffer with itching from rashes caused by these chemicals and some of them even fall sick for days. One might be wondering how we are affected by the spraying of these chemicals. The farm lands are located on the eastern side of the village with houses to the west. Be it known that the wind is blown in an east to west direction since the sea is in close proximity.
Time and time again these concerns have been raised with the farmers; to date this practice continues without any correction. While the rice farmers are anxious and happy to reap their produce, we the villagers are made to suffer yet again. After the paddy is cut, loaded and sent away and the fields are left to dry, we the villagers are left to prepare our minds for the catastrophe ahead. Within three days of the fields being cut, the farmers come by night to set the fields alight, leaving us to scramble and cover our babies, shut all doors and windows, while having buckets of water in our homes to help us breathe properly while smoke fill our rooms.
Imagine having to imprison yourself in your homes for hours just to escape the heat from a fiery field. The smoke emanating from these burning fields affects persons as far as the western side of Victoria and even the eastern side of the neighbouring village of Cove and John. This is a matter of immense concern to villagers which should be addressed by the relevant authorities expeditiously, since these rice farmers are not from Victoria/Belfield but from villages as far as Cove and John, Mahaica, Mahaicony and other villages in which they enjoy their roads and clean fresh air. I trust that someone will be mandated to look into our concerns.