THE Ministry of Agriculture is on “high alert” with respect to State land fraud and other illegalities, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said yesterday.
He was speaking at a lease letter distribution yesterday at the Ministry’s office in Chaguanas.
On the issue of fraud, Rambharat noted that in the past few days, he had to treat with two respective matters which will be reported to the Deputy Commissioner of Police for further investigation.
Twelve bonafide Wallerfield farmers were recipients yesterday of long-term State leases for agricultural parcels that are not currently in productive use.
The Minister noted that State agricultural parcels in the Wallerfield area were being cultivated by farmers but they were unable to make long-term investments as they were not legal parties to the land tenancy arrangement contracted with the State.
This is untenable as other people who own the land are reaping the rewards of the farmers’ hard work, Rambharat said.
The Ministry will be taking action in the Wallerfield area so as to ensure that these bonafide farmers have land that they can acquire a long-term lease for, he said in a statement from the Ministry.
On the issue of agricultural State lands, Rambharat said there have been an increasing number of requests for the subdivision of these parcels, a measure which he was reluctant to comply with, except for “extreme circumstances”.
The Minister was adamant about the preservation of the long-standing principle that State land for agricultural purposes not be subdivided.
“Agricultural plots were designed for the family to be able to work it and derive a certain level of income from it so when you start breaking it down to one-acre parcels, everybody will want to build a house on them and then only a little piece will remain for a kitchen garden and these agricultural plots were not designed for kitchen gardens,” he explained.