Opposition parliamentarians, Anil Nandlall and Dharamkumar Seeraj recently met with the group of farmers who are extremely concerned about their future and livelihood having been served with letters from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Nandlall, who is an attorney-at-law, is helping the farmers to fight the case against the government so they can keep the lands and continue providing for their families.
On 16th January, 2018 a notice to quit was issued to the rice farmers at Hope Estate by Hope Estate Coconut Industries Limited.
The letters were written by Omadatt Chandan, a lawyer in the Ministry of Agriculture. The letters gave them one month to deliver up possession of their lands because they have been struggling to pay rent.
But according to Nandlall, these farmers have been in occupation for several years and that these lands provide the only source of livelihood for them and their families.
Nandlall has since written the Ministry, informing that the rice lands at Hope Estate fall under the jurisdiction of the Rice Farmers (Security of Tenure) Act Chapter 69:02 and that this Act provides a process by which rent can be increased and rice lands can be repossessed.
He explained that the purpose of this Act is to provide a regime of security of tenure for tenant-rice farmers.
“In short, rents chargeable for rice lands cannot be increased and a tenant of rice lands cannot be removed from possession except by the procedures outlined by the Act. No procedures to repossess or raise the rents of the rice lands under Act have been initiated or undertaken,” he outlined.
Nandlall contended that therefore, the demand for rent and notice to quit is premature, precipitous and contrary to the letter and spirit of the Rice Farmers (Security of Tenure) Act.
“We have advised the tenant-rice farmers to ignore the demand and to remain in possession of the lands. I am prepared to institute legal action if there is any interference with our clients’ right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of these lands,” Nandlall informed the Ministry.2018-02-07 13-38