More than 50 tribal chiefs and women representatives from Marovo to Roviana lagoon gathered in Munda to attend the conference.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo officially opened the conference.
The conference is part of a serious of awareness and consultation with landowning groups throughout the country of the national government’s land reform policy
In his opening address Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo told conference delegates that the country is facing serious problems with development as a result of land disputes.
“Disputes after disputes over ownership, boundaries, leadership and use are so rampant that many people have been forced from the land.
"Our land resource, therefore, is no longer seen by many as a source of happiness, progress and prosperity. It is now the source of our pains, our sufferings, our loneliness and our frustrations”.
“Instead of it becoming the nation’s springboard for wealth generation and progress, it is now the cause of our misery and poverty”. Prime Minister Lilo said.
With the ongoing land disputes throughout the country, the NCRA Government is taking proactive and aggressive policy measures to address the country’ s customary land problems.
Land Reform Consultant in the Prime Minister’ s Office, Andrew Nori who is the chief facilitator of the conference told delegates that the objective of the government is to reduce land disputes and allow customary land to be properly managed and administered to have it accessible for economic development.
The reform program has three components.
First, is the recording of customary land boundaries, tribal membership and leadership, second is the codification of rules of custom which apply to customary land tenure systems in various regions, and third is the setting up of dispute resolution regimes appropriate to the circumstances of each region or community.
The land recording program aims to record up to 500,000 hectares of land within the next five years.
This is equivalent to 20 percent of Solomon Islands land surface.
The target areas will be those land groups classified as agriculture opportunity areas, potential tourism, industrial and commercial sites which may host the planned growth centers in provinces.
Conference delegates were informed that under the new policy emphasis, a new national registry will be established to keep and store records of all recorded land areas during the recording program.
The registry will be managed by a national recorder to be assisted by other officers.
The recording program will be carried out under the auspices of the Customary Land Records Act 1994.
The Legal Regime was field tested in Auluta Basin in East Malaita and Waisisi in West Are’are and proved to be highly successful.
Delegates were told that the system is more community friendly than acquisition process under the current Land and Titles Act as it promotes inquiry rather than confrontational litigation requires and applied by acquisition officers.
Key speakers at the two-day conference include, Andrew Nori, Chief Magistrate Leonard Maina, Director of Land Reform in the Ministry of Lands Genesis Kofana, Land Law Specialist John Muria Junior and Permanent Secretary of Agriculture Frank Wickham.
The conference concludes today.
Government Communications Unit
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