A programme to put more titles in the hands of landowners will be launched by Prime Minister Bruce Golding today, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Robert Montague has said.
Montague said that the land tenure in Jamaica had not been settled, as approximately 52 per cent of Jamaican land amounting to over 480,000 parcels, were untitled.
'Project Land', as the programme is called, will see landowners finally able to acquire land titles without having to wait up to 30 years.
"We have 480,000 parcels of land, it is estimated, that are untitled," said Montague, who was speaking at a meeting of importers to discuss a range of issues surrounding the agriculture sector.
"That means approximately 52 per cent of land in Jamaica is untitled. We therefore are a nation of rich poor people. Rich in that we have access to land, but poor because we cannot utilise the economic value that is inherent in the land," the minister said.
Montague said that in 'Project Land', a certificate of compliance would be provided and used as the root of title in the registration of titles. This certificate of compliance would eliminate the need for the 30 years possession under which landowners now have to wait before they can receive land titles.
"In Jamaica we operate a system that requires that you have to show 30 years of possession of the land before we can apply for a registered title," Montague said.
"The Facilities for Titles Act as been on our books since 1965. The Special Provisions Act has been on our books from 1999. When you combine the provision of both, we believe we cannot solve the entire problem, but make a major dent in the 480,000 unregistered parcels of land.
"The registrar of titles cannot look beyond the certificate of compliance. I believe that no matter what else you do in agriculture if you do not settle this issue of land and tenancy in Jamaica we are going to continue to have problems," Montague said.
Project Land will be launched in Juan de Bolas, St Catherine, a small village located at the centre point of the island and named after a Spanish-controlled slave who received a land grant from then rulers the British in 1685 but did not get a title for it.