Opposition Spokesperson on Agriculture and Water, Lothan Cousins, wants greater effort by the government to avoid conflict in land use for housing and agriculture while at the same time, do more to provide titles for the thousands of Jamaicans who have historically occupied their communities.
Addressing a reecent title handing-over ceremony at the Havana Heights community of his South West Clarendon constituency, the shadow minister called for more scrutiny of the policies of the country’s planning agencies.
Mr Cousins said 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 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 O.D. Ramtallie, who advocated for the residents to be able to stay on the land,” Cousins said, noting 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.
Cousins however cautioned that the country must keep an eye on how we are using our land, 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.”
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,” he said.
- Countries: Jamaica