‘This a wi livelihood’ - Trelawny farmers reject plans to mine Cockpit Country
Farmers in Comfort Hall, Trelawny, believe that if Noranda Bauxite undertakes mining activities in the Cockpit Country, many of them would be left jobless.
The farmers are making a fervent plea to the Government to come into their community and learn their lifestyle before making decisions about mining in the area.
"We see a thing go round on social media where dem say we fi sign a petition, and we sign it, so why all of this now? Weh the Government up to? Them nuh respect wi decision?" said Davian Smith. "Being in the office them nah go see the wider picture, them need fi come inna the farming area."
Smith maintains that mining activities would not only destroy their livelihood but also their main source of food.
"A lot of farmers like us survive off yam, planting yam and selling yam," he said, referring to his fellow farmers. "So imagine now them come and mine out the wul a the dirt; it affect us big time."
Lawford Richards said: "The Bible says the food is the staff of life, and if we destroy the food here, how would we manage? The country can't build without food, and when you destroy the food in the environment just for a few dollars, what happens?"
FEAR OF RELOCATION
In addition to the risk of losing their livelihood, residents are concerned that mining activities in the Cockpit Country could mean relocation.
"If they relocate people, how people a go get in touch with their farms?" Smith questioned.
"Them a go carry we in a environment weh we nuh know nothing about. When we go in a strange place to live, who we know? Weh we a go live offa?" asked another farmer, Burchelle Bailey.
Smith insists that mining activities would ruin their lives.
"We have wi children dem fi go school. We out here selling yams to put all of that together. We have bills to pay same way, food affi provide fi wi family. If we can't do none of that, we a go suffer," Smith told THE WESTERN STAR.
"This a wi livelihood, this is what we do on a day-to-day basis, there's no other. There's nothing else for us to do. So imagine if they take that from us? A really suffer we a go suffer. From we born a grow up farming is all we know."
The farmers are also claiming no middle ground can be found with Noranda and they are willing to protest as long as it takes to keep the area safe.
"The Government needs to be mindful of the fact that not many of us as farmers are educated; farming is all we know from our ancestors coming down," Smith said. "So a nuh like seh the Government can take this from us and put us in an environment where they can provide work for us because most of us can't even sign our signature good on piece of paper because we nuh know nothing else but farming."