Ministers engage farmers’ groups to resolve land issues

Agri. Minister says land to be zoned, infrastructure to be put in place

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall SC on Saturday met two groups of farmers primarily from the Shieldstown/Rampoor area in West Coast, Berbice, to resolve a decades-old land dispute between them.

After the meeting, the Attorney General told reporters that recommendations on the way forward were put to both groups. He added that the lands would be divided in a way that is acceptable to both parties.

From left, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall SC and Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha

“We’ve tried, for years, to have a compromise arrived at, to bring this animosity and controversy to an end. Today we met, and we have preliminarily extracted from both sides an undertaking of how they will use and occupy the land. We gave them some advice on how to organise themselves into a co-op society so that whatever compromise we arrive at, it would be with the co-op society. Once we are able to get that organised and we have extracted from them an understanding, we will divide the land in an acceptable way based on what they have agreed upon. We’ll then regularise the occupation by the issuance of licences or some form of lease until we can have more lands for them,” AG Nandlall said.

Meanwhile, Minister Mustapha told reporters that the area would be zoned for designated crop cultivation and livestock.

“Both groups have agreed to work with us, and we’ll be pushing to get this matter resolved as quickly as possible. One group has already formed a co-op. The cattle farmers, with the assistance of the Co-op Officer, will be registering their group as a co-op. The Attorney General’s Office will be assisting them with that process.

A section of those in attendence

“Hopefully, within another two months, we would be able to get this matter resolved. We will divide the land and zone it so that one part will be allocated for the cultivation of crops while the other part will be for the rearing of livestock,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Agriculture Minister added that the MMA-ADA would be conducting an occupational survey to divide the land appropriately and put in the necessary infrastructure.

Minister Mustapha noted that the Agriculture and Legal Affairs Ministries have been working to resolve land disputes.

A section of the meeting

“There are many conflicts like this across the country. Both the Attorney General and I have been working aggressively to resolve these conflicts. We have conflicts in Essequibo, in the Number 52-74 area, and in Black Bush Polder. In all these areas, we’ve been working because we made a commitment to the people of this country that, when we got back into government, we’ll work to resolve these issues and ensure people have lands to rear livestock and to farm,” Minister Mustapha said.

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