Not aware of land in Akawini being given to Lumumba 

Dear Editor,

In Kaieteur News of May 2, 2010, ‘Peeping Tom’ wrote that the PNC government gave Mr Lumumba 10,000 acres of land in the Manarabisi and that Mr Lumumba said that he was also given 10,000 acres in the Akawini, Pomeroon. Further, ‘Peeping Tom’ elaborated on the possible social disadvantages in allocating such large acreages. I am not aware of land in the Akawini that was given to Mr Lumumba, certainly not while I was Minister of Agriculture (October 1986 to December 1992).

Applications and inquiries were received from at least three sources, including a well-known Guyanese rice farming company, for lands for rice cultivation at Manarabisi where there were approximately 40,000 acres available. Investors needed to have the ability to raise large sums of money because of the large capital investment required, particularly for drainage and irrigation, since there was no basic infrastructural development on the land.

The PNC government had negotiated and recently completed the construction of the US$100 million (approx) drainage, irrigation and other infrastructure at the Mahaica/ Mahaicony Abary Develop-ment Project which was essentially for small farmers.

The Manarabisi lands were to be leased for 25 years with the right of renewal provided adequate development works were undertaken. In addition a major condition of the lease was that water was not to be withdrawn from the Canje Creek because of the danger that posed for salt water to enter the sugarcane lands from the lower Canje Creek.

The acreages were large to ensure profitability in keeping with the large capital investment costs and the leases were issued to assist investors in their search for capital funding.

To my knowledge no lessee obtained the required capital for investment prior to the end of 1992 when there was a change of government.

Yours faithfully,
Patrick McKenzie
(Former Minister of Agriculture)

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