Monday, October 20, 2008

Forced acquisition of uncultivated paddy land

I have about half acre of land, which from time to time had been cultivated, and as one half of it gets waterlogged when it rains, has been difficult to profitably cultivate. We were approached recently by a state officer who investigated, why we aren’t cultivating this with a view to taking it over and probably giving it to someone else who would promise to cultivate. It is in line with the stated government policy of acquiring uncultivated property as part of the “api wawamu”program.

There are many reasons why land is not put to productive use. I know that due to the small parcels of land people have, it is uneconomical to cultivate, unless it is part of a larger expanse of land that can be done together. Due to the division of the land amongst families and generations the land holdings divide into very small portions. Each piece of land needs to be evaluated according to the possible uses. I know for a fact that some of the paddy land in my area is uncultivable, due to serious drainage issues that have arisen recently out of new housing developments, where the run off floods the low lying paddy lands, and makes any sort of cultivation impossible. It is grossly unfair for the paddy land owner who cannot use this for development to pay the price of other people’s gain, due to the expense of much needed storm drains to take care of the cutting down of trees and building new homes.

Recently a neighbor spent a fortune trying to drain his fields and plant paddy in this time of increasing paddy prices, and he lost all his money, as the paddy was not even harvestable and we cut the paddy to give to our cows.

I also have spent a few years experimenting, and hence losing money trying to figure out how best I could use this land. My latest project is to grow a variety of leaves that require a lot of water, after cutting deep trenches around the beds for the water to run-off. However the cutting of the trenches is not a permanent solution, as a heavy rain can fill it in.

Most landowners especially in paddy lands, which are prevented from being filled in, have to make this decision. It is morally wrong to use the threat of acquisition to get them to waste money on worthless cultivation. A more reasoned approach must be adopted. I can assure you that those making these rules, do not have troublesome land that requires a lot of preparation expense prior to cultivation, and have no idea of the issues that need to be addressed. We want to use our land productively, advice is more useful.


CaptainM said...

My dad has a small scale rice daddy field which we used to cultivate about 15 years ago. Now the whole field area is not cultivated. Like you said, the plots are very small, with lots of subdivisions. It just is not economocal to farm in these small scales. It is more of a hobby for him than a source of income. He would goto work in a suite, and get back home and jump into a pair of shorts and into the paddyfield.

Forced acquisition is not the answer as there are inherent problems as to why the land is currently not cultivated. Just giving the land to someone else to cultivate is not going to magically solve these issues.

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