THE recent agreement signed between Range Development, an international developer and the government to continue Black Bay Master Development will result in nine farmers of the Black Bay Farmers and Consumers Co-operative being relocated.
The situation is of grave concern to the farmers who have been occupying the lands for decades.
A recent government press release stated that the project will create 500 jobs on the island during construction, with a similar number once it is operational.
According to Lucius Harris, one of the farmers who will be displaced, Invest St. Lucia has asked them to harvest their crops on their farms and identify lands elsewhere for them to do their farming.
“I have searched the whole area looking for a proper place to continue my farming but can’t find any…All lands available in the area are occupied,” a distraught Harris told The VOICE.
He added that he was not against development, but that the government needs to put things in place before it takes certain decisions.
An official at Invest St. Lucia (Vieux Fort branch) described Harris’ claims as false, but declined to make further comments on the matter.
Some years ago, under the former administration, the farmers were on the verge of being relocated next to the Beausejour Agricultural Complex after a hotel was earmarked for construction around the same area. However, the project failed and the farmers were happy to remain at their original location.
The Black Bay Farmers Consumers Co-operative, which had operated under a different name over the years, comprises close to 40 members. However, many of them do not have farms in the vicinity where the hotel is earmarked to be constructed.