GIS:-The Land Bank Project can help Achieve Food Security and Sustainable Livelihoods.
A pilot land bank project has been termed an issue of national concern.
Kwesi Goddard, Agricultural Engineer attached to the National Land Bank Project, said Saint Lucia’s most valuable asset is its agricultural land.
“The land bank is fundamentally an agricultural land administration initiative by request of the Government of Saint Lucia, so it is an issue of national concern,” he said. “Our agricultural areas are decreasing and yet our population is increasing, so we need to have a formula in place that will help us to improve production in Saint Lucia. In a developing country, the most valuable asset we have, and continue to have is land.”
Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture does not have specifically-designated agricultural lands. The project aims to help the country achieve these stated goals.
“In Saint Lucia we have 616 square kilometers or 238 square miles, and out of that only 11,000 hectares were classified as agricultural land. Out of that some would be under permanent crops, and some 3000 hectares under annual crops, and out of that there are private lands and state or crown lands, and out of these lands you still have lands which are either very degraded, and lands which are optimum. So with a focus on land, the land bank project, and other similar land projects will help us to improve our database of land.”
The project will also collate specifics such as the ownership, tenure, soil type, and quality of land available for agricultural use. It also seeks to preserve the quality and quantity of land for future generations.
“A national land bank is put in place to preserve the ability of the country to make available agricultural lands for people who want to get into agriculture but have no access to land,” Mr Goddard explained. “So rather than having lands idle and abandoned, in an effort for the government to encourage the efficient use of agricultural land, a land bank is an appropriate mechanism.
“We have a rise in population, an increase in food prices and a decrease in production. Investing in agriculture can improve productivity on the island, and help in the reduction of local food prices. The land bank can help address some of these major problems.”
Mr Goddard added the project can assist the country in achieving food security and sustaining livelihoods.
The land bank initiative will be piloted in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenada.