The deal behind giving land ownership certificate to Sri Lanka’s farmers

The Govt PR channels and clueless politicians are not surprisingly going to town about the magnanimous gesture about farmers getting deed ownership to lands that were given to them by the State as a lease. While a government has no constitutional ownership to the land of a nation, a Government, President or Politician has no moral or legal right to disburse of land with complete ownership. This is because the land of a nation must remain to be enjoyed not only by the present generation but by future generation. This much, everyone should be able to understand.

It may be too much to understand the geopolitics that constitute the efforts to grab fertile land, resources and turn natives into servitude of a handful of global entities using a nations debt, default, corruption and stupidity of leaders to their advantage to take over & control them. So, let’s just park this thought for a while.

How far the trade unions of these farmers are in the pockets of global land grabbers or international monetary entities or even corrupt politicians and are used to woo and brainwash the farmers is also a thought that should be kept in mind as we move forward.

Coming to the crux of the argument – the magnanimous gesture by the current president has had a long journey of effort – he wanted our farmers in jeans, eating chewing gum instead of betel leaves, he want to remove all agri lands and his dream is likely to get complete with the handover of deed ownership which he failed to do during the infamous yahapalana rule. Land issue was one of the reasons why he was sacked as PM, if we have not forgotten.

We need to look at the issue from several angles – the farmer, the banks & the govt & more importantly what is the real objective behind the government giving outright ownership to the state lease owners. We cannot forget that this effort was a key part of the MCC land agreement.

What are the problems of the farmers who currently own lease lands?

  • Govt has stopped subsidies
  • Govt has stopped fertilizers
  • Govt is not helping with water supply
  • Govt is not buying their crops
  • Govt is not supporting them to get loans from state banks based on their income from product & ability to payback interest

Can giving an ownership certificate address the above?

Will banks give a loan with an ownership certificate without asking for 2 guarantors, income etc?

Presuming banks do give a loan based on the ownership only – if the farmer cannot pay the interest, what will the bank do? Bank will acquire the land

After acquiring the land – what will the bank do? The Bank will sell the land

Imagine how many lands will be up for sale?

Who will be buying this land?

If agricultural lands are sold — what will happen to this land?

If agricultural lands are sold by the Banks with Parate execution powers, the Court cannot intervene on behalf of the farmers.

What will happen to the farmer after he cannot pay the interest on the loan taken & the bank confiscates his land, leaving him & his family with no land, no livelihood and no place to live?

Have the farmers & all those clapping at the gesture to give land ownership certificates thought about this likely scenario?

Is this not a crucial question to think about and demand answers?

Are banks currently giving loans to farmers?

The publicized claim is that banks are not giving loans to farmers. However the State Mortgage Bank, the Agricultural Industrial Credit Corporation were created to give loans to farmers. Currently the State Banks do have loan schemes for farmers & those who claim there are no such provision may like to look at the criteria for a loan. One state bank is expecting a farmer to pay 27% interest – how fair is this? Is this how a government facilitates the farmers that feed the people?

We all know how farmers toil with many hardships to grow food. They grow food not to feed themselves, but the nation. Should we not be more humane to their needs? Have Governments actually being a partner of that growth since independence?

Look at the nations that give prominence to agriculture and the incentives given to the farming communities. Were we not called the Granary of the East – now the norm is for a handful to make commissions out of importing every food item while killing the agriculture in Sri Lanka and ensuring the land is not used for agriculture. The pesticides and other chemicals have over the years destroyed our fertile land. We are one of the few nations that are blessed to eat a fruit & throw the seeds and more fruits emerge naturally. We cannot even protect & preserve what we have been naturally blessed with.

If the government wants to serve the farmers and assist them, the better option for the President & Government to do is to change any laws & reduce the red tape and criteria, adjust the interest rates declared by banks in giving loans to farmers.

They must be considered as a special category of people.

Will the Government/President agree to new bank laws passed by Parliament

  • Loans to be given without checking deed
  • Loans to be given without checking financial ability to pay back
  • Loans to be given without guarantors
  • Loans to be given without interest (as farmers have no money)
  • Loans to be given without seizing land from farmer & selling land by Parate execution by banks if loans/interest are in arreas.

Nevertheless, by giving deed ownership to state leased land (which the Govt/President has no moral right to do), the Govt/President makes the farmer a private land owner & completely abandons all responsibility of the land, the agriculture project, the farmer who provides food for the nation – virtually leaving the farmer & his family on their own to do as they want with no state help or no state responsibility.

Then the farmer within a short time finds that as a private land owner he cannot demand subsidies or any help from the govt & eventually he is wooed to sell as the sharks are all prepared for the outcome (as this is part of the plan) – either the farmer sells to an outside party for tuppence or the banks cease the land. The eventual outcome is that the nation’s agriculture is destroyed. The farmers have no livelihood. The farmer & his family have no land & eventually he may become a slave worker on the land alongside his family. He would have turned from being the king of the leased land that has been given by the state, to a slave worker.

Have the farmers thought of this scenario?

Have the MPs clapping for the President’s budget declaration on giving land ownership thought about what they are going to do when thousands of farmers in their electorates come wailing to them for relief when they find out too late, that they have no land, no livelihood and no place to live?

All the others supporting this are part of the plot, heavily sponsored to promote this & it is a carry forward of this quest from the MCC program where the ultimate aim was to secure Sri Lanka’s agri-lands under MNCs with corrupt local partnerships.

Time for everyone to realize that a geopolitically sensitive nation like Sri Lanka, gift horses must be looked in the mouth for sure!


Shenali D Waduge

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