MMA Land Dispute Resolution Sub-committee in place

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha today met   members of the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary-Agriculture Development Authority’s (MMA-ADA) Land Dispute Resolution Sub-committee.

Minister Mustapha informed the Sub-committee that there were several pressing land dispute matters in the MMA Scheme that it would need to review. The Minister informed the meeting that a decision was taken to convene the Sub-committee following discussions between himself and Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall about land matters in the MMA Scheme.

Minister Zulfikar Mustapha during the meeting with members of the sub-committee

“There are a number of legal issues pending there and there are a number of issues with land distribution.  There are hundreds of acres of land that were leased to people who are residing overseas. In turn, they are renting it to small farmers who are forced to pay double or triple the cost of the lease fee in rent.

“As you know, we have a new Board of Directors for the MMA. I’ve tasked the new Board with coming up with proposals because we want to start works on the second phase of the scheme. We have to do a feasibility study to look at all the ramifications that could occur,” Minister Mustapha said.

Jewel Cheong

The Minister told the three-member Sub-committee that it would be mandated to look at the disputes between the farmers and provide timely proposals and suggestions on how the MMA and the Government can resolve those issues amicably among the farmers.

“We are looking to double rice production over the next five years. Last year, we produced 1.2 million metric tonnes of paddy. In five years, we hope to produce 2.4 million metric tonnes. That means we have to open more land, and bring these lands under cultivation. This also means we’ll have to settle land disputes in areas that have already been developed.

Andrew Bishop

“Farmers have been coming to my open days and meeting me at outreaches with open conflicts and bad relations. There are also a number of matters pending in the Court so I know for a fact we’ll have to have advice on how to deal with these issues,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister said that a draft Terms of Reference (TOR) will be created and given to the Sub-committee by the Board for review and recommendations shortly. Her also informed the members that the MMA Board will also be looking at developing a zoning policy because of conflicts between cattle farmers and cash crop farmers.

The Sub-committee is being headed by retired Justice Cecil Kennard and comprises former CEO of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC), Mr. Andrew Bishop and GL&SC’s official, Ms. Jewel Cheong.