Hampton Court Estates denies it is trying to remove farmers
Hampton Court Estate has denied what it said is a series of “slanderous and erroneous claims” by a small group of rice farmers who claimed they are being forced off lands which they currently cultivate.
“We have been castigated and vilified as the all-consuming, big establishment which is unfairly pressuring small farmers eking out a livelihood.
“The group has portrayed themselves as the victims and our company and its principals as the villains,” the Estate said in a statement.
According to the Estate, it is not its intention to remove the farmers from its lands for which we are the lawful holders of Title and Lease. The Estate was acquired from Kayman Sankar and Company Limited.
The Estate, in a release, said the reality of the situation is that the farmers occupying its lands have not been fulfilling their lawful obligations of paying rent.
“Our Company had requested from the Rice Assessment Committee an increase in rent per acre of only $7,500, per crop in keeping with the relationship between ‘Owners and Tenants of Rice Lands’ as is outlined in the laws of our country.
“The Committee instead granted an amount of $4650, meaning our budget and financial obligations has been affected,” the Estate noted.
It added: “Yet the farmers continue to refuse to pay their rent some of whom are sub-letting our lands for in excess of $30,000 per acre, making a hefty profit and are refusing to fulfil their obligations to us. How can this be considered fair?”
The Estate said it has over the past few years been bending over backwards to reach out to these individuals with the hope that they will “correct this injustice but to no avail.”
“As if that was not enough, these farmers harvesting from our lands, refusing to pay our company rent for using our lands, are also refusing to sell the paddy to our mills.
“We are heavily indebted to the local banking institutions for acquiring these lands from the previous owner and the continued refusal by the farmers to honour their financial obligations is putting serious strain on the finances of our company,” the Estate stated.
The company said it has constantly encouraged the farmers to update their details with but to no avail.
“There are instances where original tenants would have passed away, and their relatives have taken over working our lands.
“As indicated above, in some instances they have sub-let our lands are receiving rent,” the Estate stated.
The company said it simply wishes to regularise and have an updated register of its operations.
“Hence, we are perplexed at both the attacks and innuendos hurled at the government and officials by this small group forcing them to intervene in what is a private arrangement between the lawful owner of these lands and those who are tenants.
“We use this opportunity to implore the government officials who have now been drawn in to this issue, to explain to the group about their legal obligations to our company as outlined in the laws of Guyana.
“We do hope that good sense prevails and our company reaffirms our commitment to engage these farmers as time is of the essence.”