Two weeks ago results of tests conducted in Florida, U.S.A., on vegetable crops planted by farmers in Valley of Peace, Cayo District, said to be affected by herbicide spraying confirmed that indeed there was evidence of two herbicides, gyphsphate and metsulphuron-methyl, the latter not registered for use in Belize.
When we last left the matter in which the President of the Valley of Peace Farmers’ Association told PLUS News that they would seek legal action against the company over the crop damage, having rejected two separate offers of monetary compensation and titled land for five acres each.
Today, Ministry of Agriculture CEO Jose Alpuche told us that the two sides are sitting down to work out their differences.
“We had facilitated, after the results came in; I know the parties are continuing negotiations. We have been told by both parties that they have some broad parameters on which they agree; they are now working on the proverbial details, but we believe that both parties are on the way to negotiate on an amicable solution”.
Alpuche said that because negotiations are still ongoing and there remains the possibility of court action in which the Ministry may be called for expert witness testimony, he could not discuss any issues having to do with who was at fault.
As to the matter of the illegally used herbicide, the Ministry is working on that as well.
CEO Jose Alpuche: “That particular pesticide that is not approved for use in Belize. That is not to say that it is not safe, but it has not been approved. The issue of drift is something that happens from time to time, but they are usually mitigating factors to counter this sort of occurrence. I don’t think we can shy away from the use of aerial application of pesticides, and quite frankly, of fertilizers because it is one of the most effective way to use these chemicals on a large scale. But we are reviewing, along with the Department of the Environment, this actual case. But also while attempting to strengthen the guidelines for application of chemicals to ensure that we don’t have this sort of re occurrence”.