13 Jul 2014 13:30pm
WINDHOEK, 13 JUL (NAMPA) The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement (MLR) says it is concerned about the increase in illegal subleasing of units by the beneficiaries of resettlement farms.
Speaking at the first of a series of one-day resettlement farmers day events organised by the Lands Ministry at Farm Ongombo West on Thursday, the ministrys Director of Regional Programme Implementation, Alfred Sikopo said the subleasing of farming units on resettlement farms without approval from the relevant authorities is illegal. In terms of the law, resettlement beneficiaries that would like to sublet their farming units should apply to the Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus !Naruseb for authorisation before they can do so.
Subleasing of farm units is a huge problem. Subleasing of State farms or farming units is prohibited and therefore illegal without the approval of the Land and Resettlement Minister. Farmers are also not allowed to bring any family members or their livestock in without the approval of the minister, he cautioned.
Sikopo said on various occasions during monitoring exercises, the ministry has discovered strangers farming on units that were allocated to previously disadvantaged Namibians as part of the resettlement process implemented by Government.
This prompted the ministry to start monitoring and investigating and it found practices contrary to the lease agreement resettled farmers enter into. They have to do so on a prescribed form and in accordance with the provisions of the ministrys subleasing regulations.
According to Sikopo, the ministry can withdraw resettlement permits if owners illegally sublease units. Farmers have to comply with several rules to get approval from the ministry to sublease their units. Approval would be granted if amongst others the beneficiary has no farming knowledge and receives training from the lessee; and if the lessee helps to install water infrastructure on the farm or assist with any farming activities such as animal husbandry. Illegal caretakers and farm managers are also a huge concern to the ministry.
Sikopo also warned family members to consult the ministry when a beneficiary of a farm unit dies before they appoint a new owner.
Another concern raised by Sikopo is the non-payment of rental fees of farm units to the ministry. He warned beneficiaries that the ministry can take back a farm for outstanding rental fees. The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement determines the rental fees of farm units. If a farm owner does not pay rental fees for three consequent years, the ministry can take back the farm.
Other topics on the agenda included post-settlement support and infrastructure development, as well as maintenance by the ministry; wildlife utilisation; introduction of the farmer support programme; and animal health practices.
Ongombo West is situated about 40 kilometres north-east of the capital.