Home The Big Stories Farmer renews pleas for help as livestock continue to die amid pollution

Farmer renews pleas for help as livestock continue to die amid pollution

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Veteran farmer Elton Ryan

Story and photos by Theresa Goodwin

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A few brown trees scattered on the parched ground along with withered dry grass are all that remain of the 68-acre Tapa Hill Farm in North Sound.

The greenery, which once served as the feeding ground for sheep and goats owned by veteran farmer Elton Ryan, is also no more.

The animals are now let out once per day to graze in other areas adjacent to the farm. However, their lives continue to hang in the balance because of harmful chemicals and cement dust which, Ryan says, continue to blanket the very plants they depend on for nutrition.

The Tapa Hill Farm was once green and luscious

“Just this afternoon I lost two adult goats,” the frustrated farmer told Observer yesterday.

Ryan has been fighting this battle for the better part of three years and, according to him, his desperate cries for help from the ministries of agriculture and health, along with other agencies, have fallen on deaf ears.

The dust which is significantly hampering the farmer’s livelihood is said to be coming from a construction plant operated by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, located opposite the farm.

The Tapa Hill Farm was once green and luscious

Ryan first spoke about the issue last August when he revealed to Observer that he had lost a number of his livestock and been forced to cut down several fruit trees due to the pollution.

The farmer said then, to save his animals, he switched to buying animal feed instead of allowing them to graze on the plants.

When Observer visited the farm again yesterday, Ryan said the problem has worsened to the point that he is unable to find comfort in the home he built on the farm.

During a walkthrough, he pointed to his dining table which is often covered in dust and gestured to the gauze on the windows which he said does nothing to block the tiny dust particles.

The construction plant is opposite the Tapa Hill Farm (Photos by Theresa Goodwin)

“I have gotten no response from any of the relevant authorities. I have written to CBH, the Ministry of Health, the Permanent Secretary, the Development Control Authority, and the Ministry of Agriculture and none of them have responded.

“I spoke to the Chief Health Inspector who put me on to the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Health who told me it was a CBH matter,” he said.

Ryan said a team eventually visited the farm two weeks ago after he highlighted his plight in a Facebook Live video but, outside of expressing general concern, they are yet to return to say what might be done to assist him.

“The farm is now barren and no one cares. Where is the Ministry of Agriculture in all this; they have been talking about food security and backyard gardening? Isn’t this food security? Why am I being treated like a second-class citizen,” the farmer questioned.

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Tubal Edwards told Observer yesterday that the department is working to determine what help can be given.

Efforts to contact Director of Agriculture Gregory Bailey were unsuccessful up to news time.

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