Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, has hinted at exploring the relevant provisions of the Land Development and Utilisation Act (1966), in order to get more of the country’s idle arable lands into cultivation.
“There are systems within the structure that can deal with it. There was an aspect of it which spoke about idle land and idle land Order,” the Minister informed, as he addressed the opening of the Christiana Potato Growers’ Co-operative’s immersion technology training programme, in Manchester, on April 12.
Mr. Clarke pointed out that the Act’s provisions, as outlined in Section II (5), mentions measures which the State, through the relevant officers and agency, can take to address such a situation.
His remarks came against the background of what he said were persons reportedly being in possession of arable lands which they intend to keep idle, rather than utilising them for agriculture. In light of this, he suggested that such landowners make the properties available to persons desirous of engaging in this pursuit.
“If you don’t want to sell it and you don’t want to use it, let somebody else use it. We cannot have good arable lands just lying like that, while we talk about production. We have not invoked that provision of the Act for many years.. .and I think it’s something that we need to visit,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Clarke announced that the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) will be conducting a survey on the amount of state-owned lands which have been leased to farmers, and how much of these are currently under cultivation.
Voicing concern that government lands are being leased to farmers who take possession and keep them idle, Mr. Clarke argued that, “when you get a piece of land, if you can’t produce from it, allow somebody else (to use it) and produce. I am going to ask RADA to do a survey of the lands. Let us look at those who have and are not using it, and let us look at who do not have, and want to use it.”
The overall aim of the immersion technology project, which has been endorsed by the Ministry, is to improve the productivity and production levels of root crops, thereby advancing development of a cluster for root crops, and increasing the farmers’ incomes.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter