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46 Melajo farmers get 10-year leases

Thursday, December 7, 2017
Calypsonian Irwin Reyes-Johnson, better known as Scrunter, collects his licence to occupy State lands from Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat at North Eastern Community Centre, Duranta Gardens, Sangre Grande on Wednesday. Photo by:RALPH BANWARIE

For over 26 years, farmers who grew crops on State lands in Melajo, Vega de Oropouche, Sangre Grande have been seeking assistance from the State to obtain a title for the land so they can use it as collateral for their agricultural projects.

That dream was realised on Wednesday for 43 of them but they were only granted 10-year licences to occupy five-acre plots.

Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said while the 10-year lease was not what he wanted, it was the first step in getting the farmer regularised.

The farmers were presented with the licence agreements at the North Eastern Community Centre Duranta Gardens, Sangre Grande.

Rambharat said he hoped that farmers who received their licence would continue to maintain and increase their production.

He made a special appeal to those farmers who had abandoned the land after waiting in vain for lease agreements to return so they can benefit from the 10 years licence.

Rambharat said the licences allowed farmers the opportunity to access loans from the Agricultural Development Bank for agricultural purposes and to access all other incentives for farmers.

He said farmers had many challenges in the land settlement process as some people believed they should not be allowed to occupy land in the Melajo Forest and the process was stuck for a while.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture Lands and Fisheries working alongside the Commissioner of State Lands was able to achieve the goal.

He said Cabinet had to remove the reserve classification for the lands at Melajo.

Rambharat said the Commissioner of State Lands Paula Drakes is preparing a note to Cabinet to remove the reserve classification for the parcel of land called Mora Settlement at Melajo and once that was approved farmers can benefit from long-term leases.