RADHICA DE SILVA
A Chatham farmer is calling for help after saboteurs sprayed down over $40,000 worth of crops in a bid to force him off the land.
Rishi Ramroop, of 2755 Southern Main Road, Chatham said he has been cultivating the land behind his mother’s home for the past 25 years.
He said around 6 am on Wednesday he went to harvest and water his crops when he noticed a pungent smell in the air.
“I was picking melongene. I got one and a half bag. It wasn’t the best quality. I knew I was supposed to get five or six bags. Then I went to dig some cassava and when I came back I realized that something was wrong. I started to feel nausea and when I went closer I realized that the plants were wilting rapidly,” Ramroop said.
He said his tomatoes plants were also wilting.
“That night I couldn’t breathe. My face was close to the plant leaves when I was picking and I realized that someone had poisoned the plants and I had come into contact with the poison,” Ramroop said.
He threw away all the produce he harvested and then realized that his water supply had been poisoned.
Ramroop said the poison smelt like Sunquart, a weedicide.
He said he had no evidence about who destroyed his crops.
“Right now I just feeling to cry. I have my ADB loans to pay. I took loans to build my house and that is why I plant a garden to supplement my income,” Ramroop said.
he said he went to the Cedros Police Station to make a report but an officer who wore plain clothes told him Cedros was a backward station and they did not have any receipts to give to him.
“I stood up outside and had to shout to give information but nobody wrote down anything and I didn’t sign anything to show that a report was taken,” Ramroop said. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture Extension officers were contact ted but he was not promised any assistance because the crops are cultivated on State land.
Ramroop said there have been attempts to remove him from the land but said his family has been planting there for 35 years.
He said a man from the Dominican Republic who has been hiding in the forests, pulled a gun and threatened to kill him and his family. Ramroop said he was afraid for his family but had no choice but to return to the fields to plant.
“I am not asking for compensation for what was lost. All I am asking is for protection so I can go to my field and plant my crops safely,” Ramroop said.
He noted that most times when he has a 9 am to 5 pm shift, he goes to the fields from 4 am and after his regular shift, he goes back to his garden until 8 pm.
“Only Jesus is with me. I pray that my family is safe and something could be done to protect us,” Ramroop said.
Meanwhile, a source said there have been attempts to chase legitimate farmers off the land.
Marijuana cultivators have laid claim to the forests and do not want anyone planting near their fields.
A senior police source said they were aware of Ramroop’s complaints and has launched investigations.