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A number of farmers and persons living in rural communities were provided with land titles last year, in keeping with government’s commitment to provide Jamaicans with legal access to land.
“There can be no sustainable agricultural development unless farmers have legal access to land, nor can there be meaningful economic development in rural communities without the rationalization of land titles and property rights, given that these are the means of securing collateral, both for domestic and business pursuits,” Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke stated.
He was addressing a press briefing at his Hope Gardens offices in Kingston on Thursday (Dec. 28), where he outlined the Ministry’s performance for 2006.
He pointed that under the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP) a number of titles were issued. “We have been working tirelessly with the parish councils and to date, 215 new titles have been processed, and 135 of these have been handed over to proud recipients in Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Trelawny, St. Ann and St. Mary,” he informed.
Under the LAMP project, 31,000 parcels of land in St. Catherine have been surveyed to date, at no cost to beneficiaries. In addition, some $5 million have been allocated to the National Land Agency to survey another 1,075 parcels of land, to facilitate the titling process.
During the year in review, the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands took steps to address the problem of squatting though the establishment of the Squatter Management Unit.
Since its establishment, the Unit has been instrumental in assisting residents of several informal communities to acquire legal tenure, to pave the way for the regularization of these settlements.
Minister Clarke noted that several site visits have been made to various squatter settlements to gather information that will assist in informing the regularization process. Additionally, the Unit has been in discussions with the Development Bank of Jamaica to explore the possibility of divesting lands at Pusey Hall Estate in Rocky.
“Based on the support we have been enjoying on the ground in Rocky Point, this could be the Unit’s pilot success story, as far as regularization is concerned,’ the Minister said.
He further added that persons in Pitfour Heights in St. James and Ferry Pen in St.Catherine have approached the Unit for assistance to regularize their settlement.