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Government will be introducing standard operating procedures for the leasing of its lands, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Christopher Tufton has said.
“In other words, if you have Government land and you don’t use it, you are going to lose it, based on the terms and conditions,” Dr. Tufton told the House of Representatives during his Sectoral Debate presentation on Tuesday (June 29).
“Wherever Government lands are offered for lease, there is going to be standard operating procedures as it relates to linking the lease to a business plan and establishing a timetable for usage,” he explained.
The Minister also stated that a Ministry Paper on a new agricultural land use policy will be tabled in the House this year, followed by the legislation to support it.
He said that a critical part of sustainable agriculture is to ensure that there is a clear policy on arable land usage.
“For too long our most arable lands have been unaccounted for, and subject to inactivity due to lack of information or delinquent leases. The current system of leasing arable lands tends to be ad hoc and leaves too much to the discretion of the lessee. In addition, far too much of the most arable lands have been transformed into permanent non-agricultural uses,” the Minister said.
He pointed out that there are 2.7 million acres of which only 17 per cent, or 460,000 acres, are flat arable lands. Approximately 25 per cent of this has been lost to other forms of development, while another 1 million acres are arable, hillside land.