Some aggrieved farmers, who are women, have blamed the Johnsonville Township Commissioner, Mr. Joseph Bettie, for allegedly engaging into the sale of wetlands meant for farming purposes in the township.
The women calling themselves, “Johnsonville Women Farmers’ Cooperative, made the disclosure recently to the Daily Observer newspaper in Paynesville.
The spokesperson for the group, Ethel Williams, told this paper that about 7 hectares of farm land in Mount Barclay is being encroached upon.
According to her, Commissioner Bettie is behind the sale of the wet land.
“A relative of the commissioner is found selling the land for which he Bettie is aware. We have called his attention to this problem but to no avail,” she said.
Madam William said that the land in question was given to them by the former commissioner of the township for farming activities.
“Swamplands are public land and strictly intended for agricultural purposes. In 2009, we appealed for the land from the former commissioner and he allowed us to use it,” she said.
“Unfortunately, today this particular land is being sold to some individuals, who have planted cornerstones on portions of the land. These people have constantly threatened the farmers and are backfilling the land,” she added.
She further stated that this was posing a serious problem for them as many of the members of the farming organization were widows, who survived through farming, adding that such condition was a threat to food security.
When contacted, Commissioner Bettie denied the allegation as false and misleading. He said though he is aware of some people in his township engaging in the unscrupulous sale of land but was something that could not control.