Return of bauxite : Farmers say investments threatened by bauxite return

June 20, 2017
Witter said he is contemplating switching as he doesn't think his investments will pay off.
The Alpart bauxite plant in Nain, St Elizabeth.
Ian Allen/Photographer Glenvin Witter in his field in Genus District, St Elizabeth.
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During the eight-year shutdown of Alpart, some farmers say their crops made a comeback.

Now with the impending restart of bauxite production in the parish, they say their costly investments are threatened.

THE STAR toured several farms in and around the fields, which are close to the plant. The farmers said people are fretting already that farms will be ruined.

They told THE STAR the shutdown brought about improvement in the quality of the crops.

"Yes, man. It was doing well, the best time in all these years. So we know what going to happen. It a go worse." A woman told THE STAR.

Glenvin Witter farms in the community of Genus, his plot in the hills overlooking the bauxite plant.

"I have been through the experience of the last operators, and it had a negative impact on the crops. Even the dust I use to say is it give the people around here sinus from the pollution cause you know whatever you contract, it in the system even now," Witter said.

 

Some people affected more

 

He also told THE STAR that his experience has shown that some people are more affected than others.

Witter said, "Them say dem detecting and dem nuh find anything but when the dust lift off, that mud lake there and it go up in the air, the breeze carry it to all direction cause dem don't have any control over that, and dem want tell you say a one direction it blow. That I nah believe, and will never believe."

Witter primarily farms tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, and broccoli.

"But those thing (dust) affect them more than you would plant yam and cassava, cause those are tender vegetable, especially the cauliflower. The farmers dem love plant it, and is a crop that you easy fi lose," he said.

 

Contemplating switching jobs

 

He told THE STAR that he is contemplating switching to other sources of income because it is not fair to spend thousands and not be able to get a response when help is needed.

"It don't make sense you are investing so big. The other day me and some other farmers were talking and we a say if we have this situation happen again, who ago help we?" he said.

Witter recently invested in an irrigation system for his crops, and the dust from the bauxite threatens the return on his investment.

"I bought the drum for $10,000, one roll (cable) is for $13,000 and I buy two rolls, plus the fittings a more money. To set it up, I need people to help, and I don't start talk bout the seedlings and chemicals."

Witter believes that the silence of some of residents also hinders farmers' opportunities from getting justice.

He said the people representing farmers need to act in their interest because it could also lead to serious health issues.

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