December 7, 2017: ‘I hope that the persons who receive the licences now will continue to maintain productive use of the land’ said Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries; a statement made on Wednesday 6th December, 2017 at a Licence Distribution for forty-four farmers in Mora Allotment, Sahadeen Trace, Sangre Grande, hosted by the Land Management Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.
The Ceremony saw the forty-four farmers and families signing and receiving the legal document, referred to as a State Lands Agricultural Licence, granted for agricultural purposes for a period of ten (10) years.
In his Address, Minister Rambharat outlined the history behind the long struggle of the farmers to attain security of tenure, saying to the farmers and their families that is was heartening to see 'persons who have a genuine interest in agriculture’. These licences are granted to the original tenants on the land, with some distinctive differences, namely that the Commissioner of State Lands, as the Minister put it, ‘has granted to you ten year licences; and those licences are acceptable not only to the Agricultural Development Bank but in the Ministry itself. So it will allow you to be granted access to all the incentives including the facilities offered by the ADB. But more importantly, I believe that we should be very close to the next and final step – that is to actually grant you the leases because these plots were surveyed since 1983 and we should be in a position to be able to grant leases for the usual 30 year term.’
The Minister however noted that there were some steps to be taken by the Ministry to make this a reality, inclusive of acquiring Cabinet approval for the reclassification of the land currently classified as a forest reserve. Upon receipt of this approval, the next step allows for the granting of the 30-year leases for the land.
Another important feature of the licences, the Minister noted, is that it ‘provides for the occupants to utilize a 5,000 sq ft of land for the purpose of construction, as stipulated in the licence; but I believe that as far as possible we should be facilitating farmers in a reasonable way’ to allow them to erect structures that support their farming operations, inclusive of that for temporary residential purposes.
Also addressing the audience were Ms. Paula Drakes, Commissioner of State Lands; Ms. Bhanmatie Seecharan, Deputy Commissioner of State Lands; and Ms. Simone Gill, Vice Chairman, Sangre Grande Regional Corporation.