Gov’t aims to repossess large expanses of unproductive lands held by co-ops

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With the government on an aggressive path to expand agriculture, Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton on Monday indicated the government would be seeking to repossess “tens of thousands” of acres of land that are held by Cooperative Societies but are lying waste.

In many instances, he said the Cooperative Societies are run “by some family or some ‘one man’ who took it over,” and warned that they will not be allowed to hold on to lands under the “farcical umbrella” that the lands are under Cooperative Societies.

“Cooperative Societies in this land of ours – they have in their possession tens of thousands of acres of land -most of it nonproductive,” Hamilton said in the National Assembly as he opened the 2023 Budget Debate on behalf of the government side of the House.

“We will have to resolve or dissolve,” Hamilton declared, saying he had no apologies to make.

Hamilton said he has asked the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Mahaica/Mahaicony/Abary Agricultural Development Authority to conduct an audit to determine which lands are held by Cooperatives.

He said the Societies which want to “work for development” will be accommodated, but “what will not continue to happen” is Societies holding on to State lands without utilizing them.

Given the government’s drive to ensure food security and boost agricultural productivity, Hamilton said the nation “cannot afford” to have lands held up by Cooperative Societies.

Cooperative Societies are formed when a group of persons pool their labour, skills and resources to undertake a specific task or objective such as farming or manufacturing.

It is estimated that there are over 1,000 Cooperative Societies in Guyana.

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