February 22 , 2020
By GELILA SAMUEL ( FORTUNE STAFF WRITER )
A group of experts are expected to table a proposal to higher officials of the Ministry of Agriculture for the formation of an autonomous body that will administer lands.
Known as the Land Administration Organisation, the office will be tasked with administering both rural and urban land. It will also have the responsibility of deciding landholding rights, assessing the size and value of land, presiding over tax issues, and determining land usage and permitting.
The proposal is part of the ongoing agricultural reform efforts, included in the draft of the Agricultural Sector 10-year Strategy plan. Written by a group of experts, the document is expected to be tabled to the cabinet of the Ministry on February 24, 2020, for approval.
Once established, the Organisation will be mandated with restructuring policy, laying out legal frameworks and digitizing information according to available deeds. It will also outline the prioritized land use for development purposes and assign bodies within the administration to govern the land usages.
Different departments within the Organisation will be formed to oversee the land used for agricultural, urban, industrial, religious, and reforestation purposes.
According to the draft proposal, the formation of the Organisation is aimed at addressing the administration problems associated with land use.
There is a need for an organisation that will administer both rural and urban land use based on knowledge and organised data, says Anteneh Girma (PhD), senior policy adviser at the Ministry of Agriculture.
"The new entity will work on making the sector have a sustainable contribution to the economy without competing with other sectors such as real estate and hotel," he said during a meeting held at the Office of the Prime Minister three weeks ago.
Because of beauracratic bottlenecks, prime farmlands availed for other purposes have been lying fallow, their value wasted, says Tigistu Gebermeskel, director of rural land administration at the Ministry.
“Every sector has its own plan for using land without considering the other sectors," said Tigistu, "this leads to competition for land resulting in conflicts and improper use of land."
In a 20Km radius from the five gates of the capital, the expansion of construction over agriculture has increased by 384pc from 1979 to 2003. At the same time, currently, 21pc of the land in the country is involved in some kind of conflict.
An assessment that was conducted seven years ago shows that the average farmland holding does not exceed 0.8ha.
The new organisation aimed at reducing the land conflicts from the current 21pc to 15pc through the coming 10 years.
“It's essential to have an integrated land-use plan with the consultation of all sectors,” said Tigistu.
One of the other challenges is the lack of human resource capital that has adequate knowledge of land management, indicates the document.
Most people in positions of authority have studied agriculture or a similar field rather than land management. Thus, the new entity will be equipped with experts that have a deep understanding of land administration, says Tigistu.
Countries like Russia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Vietnam and South Korea have an institution that administers rural and urban land to consolidate all the challenges.
In the drafting process experts from the Ministry travelled to South Korea and Vietnam to learn from the experiences of the countries five years ago.
Muradu Srur (PhD), an assistant professor specialising in land law at Addis Abeba University School of Law & Governance, says that the organisation could only be successful if it fulfills the required prerequisites.
Integrating itself with the regional administrations, building its human resource capacity and equipping itself with technology are among the perquisites, the Organisation must fulfill, according to the expert.
"It’s very important to take note that land can’t be controlled by one institution only," he adds, "the Agency can act as a lead to consolidate the fragmented issues of land, but the inherent nature of the agency is basic to guide the land use and administration."
PUBLISHED ON Feb 22,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1034]
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