Wales land allocated for coconut cultivation among 5,000 acres to be repossessed – Jagdeo

Last Updated on Sunday, 7 August 2022, 20:49 by Denis Chabrol

Dr. Arlington Chesney (second from left) and Dr. Patrick Antoine (extreme right). (file picture)

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has announced that government has begun taking steps to repossess about 5,000 acres of former sugar estate land at Wales, West Bank Demerara and allocate the land for housing.

He told a large meeting at Patentia, West Bank Demerara that the land includes several acres that had been leased to a private concern for the cultivation of coconuts. “They gave a single individual to plant coconut trees and they never even put down a baby coconut tree as yet,” he said.

Back in November 2019, the previous administration had leased 700 acres of land at Wales to Amazonia Expert Services (AES) whose principals are former Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research Development Institute (CARDI), Dr Arlington Chesney and Grenadian economist, Ambassador Patrick Antoine. The company had announced plans to produce and export coconut water, dried and grated coconut to the Dominican Republic, and coir to the United States.

The Vice President said government was searching for land to allocate 14,000 house-lots in Region Three (West Demerara-Essequibo Islands) because that is the number that is needed there.  “Almost all of the lands on the upper part going from Uitvlugt is practically gone and private so we are trying to take back s0me of the land at Wales and other places that they gave to people, some of them 5,000 acres,” he said.

Mr Jagdeo calculated that 5,000 acres of land could accommodate 20,000 house lots. He forecast that there would be court battles over the lands but said government was keen on keeping its 2020 election promise of allocating 50,000 house lots. “Now, we probably have to go and you’ll have court battles and we’ll make sure that we take back the land to develop housing,” he said.

As Opposition Leader, Mr. Jagdeo had in November 2019 criticised the allocation of the land to AES for coconut production based on his claim that no feasibility study had been conducted and that Guyanese should have been given the first opportunity. In 2019, too, he had warned that government would have taken back those lands. ““We’re making it clear now, that we’re not just going to take back these lands, but we are going to file legal action against some of these people for what they are doing now. This government has no legitimacy to give away – especially to foreigners large tracts of lands, at this point of time,” he had said, citing the fact that the  then David Granger administration had been in caretaker mode.