The targeted area, located along the George Price Highway from Beavers Dam Bridge all the way to the edge of Cotton Tree village in Cayo District, is now known as Harmonyville. At the beginning of the project, the government of Belize pledged their full support to the Grassroots organization, however, in 2011 GOB pulled out.
Nevertheless, BGYEA has succeeded in securing about 1040 acres of land for first time land owners- now the people of Harmonyville.
The next step is development, and with Government pulling the plug on them, Harmonyville was left without resources. Even so, Nigel Petillo, President of BGYEA says major investments are coming.
“Now, in this case we were instructed by the Government to put in a buffer zone of 140 feet. That tells me, well…either the buffer da fuh di government or something, but I find out that the government no do nothing to the buffer; deh no clean it. So, we have a piece a land weh di grow front a we community. So, we find that maintaining those buffers are very costly. So, we realize that the buffer could be utilized as some sort of investment. So, we spoke to this investor and we were happy to be able to utilize the buffer and the three parcels and now we are clearing down this buffer. As you could see, all them lee trees weh knock down. The next part now is to bring in the machinery to scrape off everything and put in the plough. The idea here is, he will be planting corn and beans… and every crop that he goes in to sell, we will receive about 15% of that. 130 acres at about $1,500 to $2,000 per acre should give us from $25,000- $30,000 or $40, 000 per crop. If you get 2 crops in one year, that da two times that amount; three crop in [means] that da three times that amount”.
However, Petillo says an investor is offering to build some roads for them, which he believes should have been the Government’s responsibility in the first place.
Nigel Petillo: “We have people who come out ya and just chap down fuh we logs; sometimes them just help themselves with people crops. We no have no security out ya; we no have nobody who could watch this whole place; the whole terrain and ensure that nothing di happen. So, we met with dis individual who was excited about logging the place and in return, give we back some roads. We are excited to say that has taken place, we have received a permit from Ministry of Natural Resources to go ahead and salvage the material that is going to be used and then in return, that individual is going to build some roads for us”.
Finally, oil exploration in Harmonyville might very well become the next source of funding for the development of Harmonyville.
Nigel Petillo: “We have met with the people from DISCOVERIES SEISMIC Testing. This is a company that does testing and they work with different companies such as BNE. So, we have met and they are very much interested in looking for oil in this area, which we believe have oil long before we arrived here. Oil deh eena dis area! However, we welcome this exploration; we want to make sure that both heads, the community of Harmonyville and the people there who have definitely have personal interest in whatever is beneath or up here. So, we brubroke; we poor bad, but those different investments mean one lot for us and it means that from deh we wa could continue.
BYEA meets with its members on Sunday to discuss future development.