Hope Estate farmers signal court challenge to tripling of rental fee

Several hundred rice, cattle and cash crop farmers say that a decision by Hope Estate Coconut Industries Limited, on the East Coast of Demerara, to triple the rental fee for lands is too burdensome and some have indicated their intention to move to court if the new charge is imposed or any attempt is made to evict them.

After a “Notice to quit” was sent to more than a dozen rice farmers for non-payment of rent, attorney Anil Nandlall penned a letter to the attorney for the Ministry of Agriculture on their behalf indicating that the process for increasing their rent has not been followed.

Girjadial Changa, one of the affected rice farmers, told Stabroek News that he has 20 acres and is now being asked to pay $15,000 for each acre. He recalled that in 2015, the rental fee was $3,000 per acre. The following year it was increased to $5,000 and in 2017 the company announced a new fee of $15,000. “We can’t afford that,” he said, before adding that two protest actions last year were not fruitful…..