The Ministry of Agriculture said on Monday that it intends to crack down on the exploitation of small-scale farmers by overseas-based holders of government-issued land leases.

In a public advisory, the exploitation was cited by the Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha in the Mahaica Mahaicony Abary – Agricultural Development Authority (MMA/ADA) scheme, whereas, leaseholders charge farmers who sublet their lands as much as $30,000 an acre. This is $26,400 more than what a farmer would pay to access the same lands through the scheme and without a middleman involved.

Earlier this month during a community outreach held at the MMA/ADA’s office in Onverwagt, Region 5, farmers engaged the minister on several issues impacting them and their livelihoods. These included subletting, land leases, and paddy prices.

The ministry said the MMA-ADA board is now doing an audit of the lands leased to the overseas-based persons with a view of reassigning those lands if the owners are found to be exploiting small farmers.

The ministry also issued a stern warning to leaseholders engaging in this wretched practice and was keen to note that under the laws governing the lease of lands, “no person…is allowed to sublet lands to a third party unless written permission is sought and given to the leasee for this to take place”.

Further, the ministry boasted that through the 2023 budget allocations to the MMA-ADA, it is anticipated that approximately 20,000 acres of land will become available to farmers by the second half of this year.


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