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Police investigate New Year’s Day cane blaze in Valley of Peace; is land dispute an issue?

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Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2022. 5:41 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The owners of Valley of Peace Farms Limited in the same-named village in the Cayo District must now scramble to save their investment in a 1,200-acre cane field that was set on fire on New Year’s Day.

General manager Gilbert Canton, Jr., told Channel 7 News that it’s a race against time, as burned cane loses most of its sucrose content within 72 hours. The estimated value of the cane field is around 2.3 million Belize dollars if all of the cane can be processed, but Canton expects to lose anywhere from one-half to three-fourths of that 2.3-million-dollar value.

Hence it is a very expensive message sent – but by whom? Canton acknowledges that farmers in the area that have duplicate title with land owned by Valley of Peace Farms would have an axe to grind but declined to point fingers. All he would say is that police are investigating and Valley of Peace Farms does not want a fight with anyone. There had been a previous incident reported around the same time last year.

As for the land disputes, Canton, confirmed by area representative Julius Espat, said Valley of Peace Farms Limited won two court judgments last August, and had entered negotiations with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) Belize office and the Human Rights Commission of Belize (HRCB) to create a memorandum of understanding that would have set aside 416 acres of land for the affected farmers.

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