Linden farmers want lands regularised to acquire capital to invest

In the absence of a Land Selection Committee, farmers and residents of Region 10 (Upper Demerara- Berbice) are grappling with the effects of the land that they occupy not being regularised. This was recently highlighted during a statutory meeting of the Regional Democratic Council.
The Land Selection Committee, which was part of an August 2012 agreement and was later established under the previous Council, was rejected by the Regional Chairman, Renis Morian, who dubbed it a “rubber stamp” after taking up office. He highlighted that the RDC was not an issuer of lands, among other things.
Since then, the Committee was placed on the back burner, with numerous complaints being brought before the Council. On Thursday last, Chairman of the Region’s Agriculture Committee, Douglas Gittens pressed the Regional Chairman for answers, citing several difficulties as he asked when there would be movement on the Land Selection Committee.
“Every instance that we try to give development to certain areas, the point of land selection comes up and the situation is getting worse, even at the agricultural level. We go to make a move and the person doesn’t have the land ownership title in their possession… Persons want to approach the bank for house loans and agri loans and they cannot do anything on the land unless they get those loans…,” Gittens stated.
However, Morian contended that legally there was no Land Selection Committee and the RDC did not have any authority in that regard. He stated that the Land Commission, which was currently conducting a land audit, has the sole responsibility. In highlighting several instances, Morian said there were cases in Linden where parts of lands illegally form part of other land allotments.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Committee Chairman requested a time line asking for the process of dealing with such issues to be fast tracked.
Region 10 Councillor Sandra Adams said in relation to issues with farmlands the Chairman of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), Major General (Rtd) Joseph Singh, had visited the Region and hosted a meeting with farmers of West Watooka, Linden. She said contact was also made with the Lands and Surveys Commission, which had also visited. She indicated that moves were afoot to have the issues of regularisation resolved.
“…they are working on a plan…those who have been paying their lease fees every year for a number of years; they are looking at them first. To get them properly regularised and then they’re going to move to the ones who now have applications in. So some movement is taking place in terms of the farming areas because that is the concern and myself and Mr Joe Singh are pursuing it vigorously because we know that there are hiccups when it comes to farmers,” she noted.