On May 30th, 2015, CEO of The Santander Group, Mr. Jose Rodriguez handed over 160 acres of land to the president of Agricultural Association of the Valley of Peace, Mr. Ever Blandon. The exchange took place at the parcel location on the Santander farm in Belmopan and 22 of 31 farmers who are also receiving this land package were present.
The Santander Group began work on their 20,000 acres of land in 2012 and became aware that farmers had been occupying some 43 acres of land, centrally located on their property. Acknowledging that this local farming community would be displaced from their livelihood, The Santander Group began seeking solutions to arrive at a settlement.
Through negotiations with the Agricultural Association of the Valley of Peace, The Santander
Group made significant efforts in arriving at terms for an agreement that would allow for these farmers to have their own titled land on the same property, not far from where they had originally settled.
To date, The Santander Group has surveyed, parceled, and cleared 160 acres of land (150 acres plus a 10 acre buffer), valued at $320,000.00 BZD, as well as created a water source within the new farming location. The group will also be providing the title for the 160 acres, which is more than double the size of land the occupiers originally had. This informal event on May 30th was to give the farmers permission to start working on the property while preparations of the land title are under way at the Ministry of Natural Resources. The Santander Group and the Valley of Peace farmers have committed to moving forward as partners in the community, for which they will now be neighbors for life. The farmers are now able to start the process of moving their agricultural activities to this new location and Santander has provided them with a relocation capital of $66,000.00 BZD in order to assist with this process.
The Santander Group has committed to pay the stamp duty on behalf of the association in order to facilitate and expedite the title which will be handed over in an official ceremony during the month of June.