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Rice farmers in the East Mahaicony area want a review of the distribution of over 3000 acres of fertile lands in the Burma area in Region 5 (Mahaica/Berbice) which they said had been distributed to persons who were allegedly friends and relatives of the Peoples Progressive Party CIVIC Administration prior to it demitting office in 2015.
The protesting rice farmers live mainly at Burma Capetown and Champagne villages and their environs. The land in question they said is known as the Libyan lands which were occupied by foreigners some twenty years ago. A spokesman explained to Village Voice News that the land is next door to where they live and when the Libyans and then the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) subsequently abandoned it, they felt in all fairness that they would have been given first preference for plots on it.
He said: “The Officials at Mahaicony Abary Rice Development Scheme (MARDS) asked us to apply for plots on this land. They told us that we would get forty acres each. Many small farmers from the villages around here applied but none of us got replies.”
Instead, he said, the then Government brought in people from all over the place including Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) and installed them on the land.
“This was done secretly. Many farmers didn’t know what was happening until they saw these persons most of them strangers to the area, taking over and working on the lands.” He said that what has happened since then is that there are big farmers on the “Libyan” land cultivating large acreages while they living just next door are struggling with their small plots.
“Some of them big farmers cultivating 500 acre plots, 300 acre plots and so on. We call them big fish.”
He stressed: “This situation on the Libyan lands for us is not nice. The land just next door to where we live yet people from Region 4 and other areas get preference over us. We calling on the Minister of Agriculture to intervene and correct this lopsided situation. We want the Minister to redistribute the land.” He said that it was the current Government that made the decisions and it was they who have to take action to correct what he called a “historical injustice.”