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Brutalised Lopinot farmers get Smart cards
Farmers who have been unable to tend to their crops on the San Jose Estate in Lopinot are being placed on the Targeted Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (Smart Card). At least five of the 12 farmers from La Pastora Village in Lopinot were given Smart Cards yesterday as it has been one month since their livelihood was put on hold. This week the remaining cards will be delivered. In a terrifying scene more than one month ago, farmers and cutlass-wielding thugs clashed on the estate. Instructed by police officers not to go to the lands unaccompanied and awaiting word from various ministries, they have been losing money from rotting crops.
Farmer Mark Churaman said, “Right now nobody going back on the land yet. We are still waiting on the title search.” To compound matters it has been alleged that the same men who pushed farmers off the Estate have been reaping and selling their produce. Their quality of life has been hanging in the balance as agriculture was their means of success. Education and Research Officer of the National Foodcrop Farmers Association, Norris Deonarine, died from a heart attack on February 18, one day after he too was chased by the cutlass wielding men. He wanted the State to acquire the lands so that it could be used for meaningful agricultural purposes.
The Ministry of Legal Affairs was still conducting the search for the ownership of the land, last week. Corporate Communications Manager of the Ministry, Anil Goorahoo said, “I have been told by the Registrars Department that they have made quite a bit of headway in determining ownership but there are a couple of things that need to be verified.” He said within two weeks they anticipate they will be able to have a complete picture as to the ownership of those lands. “Then when Agriculture (Ministry) has the records from us they will be able to determine how to treat with it,” he said.
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