PNP urges careful consideration of land usage for housing and agriculture

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PNP urges careful consideration of land usage for housing and agriculture

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition Spokesman on agriculture and water, Lothan Cousins, says greater effort must be made by the Government to avoid conflict in land use for housing and agriculture.

Cousins also called on the Government to “do more to provide titles for the thousands of Jamaicans who have historically occupied their communities”.

Addressing a title handing-over ceremony on Friday in the Havana Heights community of his Clarendon Southwest constituency, the spokesman said more scrutiny of the policies of the country's planning agencies is needed.

“Most administrations since independence have recognised the importance of getting land to the Jamaican people but that this is still a slow-moving process,” he said.

Cousins congratulated the residents who were receiving titles from the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change as a significant achievement for all the Havana Heights residents in Clarendon.

“The delivery of these titles represents the completion of work started by my predecessors, as far back as OD Ramtallie, who advocated for the residents to be able to stay on the land,” he said.

Cousins said the handover of titles represented improved prospects for economic advancement as the equity in the land could be used as collateral for future investments and development in the community.

The Opposition spokesman cautioned however, that the country and its leaders must keep an eye on how land is being used, especially to ensure food security.

“We are seeing a lot of housing developments, and a lot of investments but we aren't seeing the same kind of attention being paid to how we plan for the use of our land—a very finite resource,” he noted.

Cousins said that appropriate land utilisation and planning policies from the Government, to avoid future conflicts among agriculture, housing, mining and forest conservation, should be one of the nation's top priorities.

Food insecurity, he said, is a growing concern especially as the rate of investment in agriculture has not kept pace with residential developments.

He added that Jamaica needs a national strategy that addresses this before it becomes a crisis.

“It is even more urgent now because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This situation should be treated as a national emergency, because food security is a problem that will only get worse,” he said.

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