Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa says government is carrying out a customary land registration exercise to ensure that people under the Shire Valley Transformation Programme do not lose ownership of their land.
Speaking when he toured activities under the programme’s land component in Chikwawa District on Thursday, the minister said the aim is to ensure that smallholder farmers should benefit from the project.
He said: “Upon registration, the users of customary land parcels will receive their customary estate certificate to protect them as land owners from any conflicts or land grabbing.
“They will also be able to indicate the beneficiaries of their land after they die; hence, it will act as a will and it has no time limit.”
Msukwa said the exercise is on a pilot phase under the new land laws, notably the Customary Land Act (2016) .
“The lessons that we are drawing from piloting the new land laws are being recorded and will be used to inform the review of the process of the land laws,” he said.
On his part, land surveyor and geographical information systems (GIS) specialist in the ministry’s Land Reform and Implementation Unit, Masida Mbano, said the exercise is in the mapping stage and 70 percent of it is already done.
He said: “The land holders are excited as they are not paying anything for the exercise and the issuing of certificate will also be free. So far we have mapped land for about 9 700 farmers.”
One of the users whose land has been mapped, Alfred Chibzola of Nyamphota Village in the district, hailed the project, saying it will ensure their land is safe while also maximising agricultural production in the country as farmers will be able to plant crops more than once a year.
Government launched the Shire Valley Transformation Project last year to increase agricultural productivity and commercialisation for targeted households in the Shire Valley.
The project covers 43 370 hectares of land and is worth K222.7 billion.