Cousins wants more focus on food securitySunday, January 17, 2021
OPOSITION People's National Party spokesman on agriculture and water, Lothan Cousins wants a greater effort by the Government to avoid what he termed a conflict in land use for housing versus agriculture, and to do more to provide titles for the thousands of Jamaicans who have historically occupied their communities.
Addressing a title handover ceremony on Friday in the Havana Heights community of his Clarendon South Western constituency which he represents as the member in Jamaica's House of Representatives, the shadow minister called for more scrutiny of the policies of the country's planning agencies.
Cousins said most administrations since Independence have recognised the importance of getting land to the Jamaican people but insisted that the process was moving too slowly.
In his presentation, the MP congratulated the residents who were receiving titles from the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, describing it as a significant achievement for all the people of Havana Heights.
“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,” Cousins said.
Cousins stated that the 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.
He was quick to caution, however, that the country and its leaders must keep an eye on how land was 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 said.
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. Cousins continued, saying 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,” the MP and Opposition spokesman he said.
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