Green Tropics and farmers reach out of court agreement

The Santander Group of Companies is giving land to the farmers  in fulfilment of their part of a compromise agreement with the Agriculture Association of the Valley of Peace. In May 2014,  the Valley of Peace Farmers were considering taking legal action against the Santander Group of companies, then known as Green Tropics. They claimed that Green tropics had destroyed ten thousand dollars worth of vegetables after Green tropics sprayed their crops with herbicides. The farmers had no titles to the land on which they were farming however they had been farming there for over 18 years affording them squatters rights. Santander (Green Tropics) acquired and began operations on some 20 thousand acres of land in 2012. 43 acres of that land were already being cultivated by farmers of Valley of Peace. Both parties agreed to settle matters outside the court but for some time negotiations were deadlocked. In June 2014 both parties finally settled on an agreement. Part of that agreement was realized this week Saturday May 30th. The CEO of Standard Group, Jose Rodrigudez handed over 160 acres of land to the president of Agricultural Association of the Valley of Peace, Ever Blandon. In a press release issued today the Santander group said they, “…made significant efforts in arriving at terms for an agreement that would allow for these farmers to have their own titled land on the same property, not far from where they had originally settled. To date, The Santander Group has surveyed, parceled, and cleared 160 acres of land (150 acres plus a 10 acre buffer), valued at $320,000.00 BZD, as well as created a water source within the new farming location. The group will also be providing the title for the 160 acres, which is more than double the size of land the occupiers originally had.” The informal handing over, according to Santander was to give the 31 farmers, who are recipients to this compensation package, permission to  begin working on the land while the preparations for the land title are under way at the Ministry of Natural Resources. In addition to that, Santander is giving the farmers some $66 thousand dollars Belize in relocation capital to assist with the process.

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