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3. Second step in review: a nationwide land registration and titling programme

3.1 Rationale and request for USAID proposal
3.2 LRTP design
3.3 LRTP assessment

Equitable and rational land use was one purpose of the Saint Lucia Agricultural Structural Adjustment Project (ASAP), agreed upon in March 1983 between the Government of Saint Lucia and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).7 A grant of US$ 8 million dispersed over the next three years covered the major costs of the Project. The ASAP originally included a banana-replanting programme, a market-promotion scheme, and land registration and titling programme (LRTP). However, for reasons explained below, the Government only implemented the LRTP.

7 USAID Project #538-0900, AID/LACP-129 (1983).

The Morne Panache activities of the OAS greatly facilitated implementation of the LRTP. At a midpoint in the programme, the OAS helped organize an international symposium on land registration and information systems to examine and discuss the progress and effects of the programme. The LRTP resulted in the establishment of a modern national land registry, an essential ingredient of integrated land development.

3.1 Rationale and request for USAID proposal

In 1983 the Government of Saint Lucia recognized the need for agricultural diversification to reduce the country's dependency on banana exports. This dependency was considered to be a serious barrier to the country's long-term economic stability. The Government's proposal to USAID forwarded the premise that the removal of four key constraints (outlined below) would allow international demand to stimulate a market-driven economy toward higher and more wide-ranging production. The constraints were identified as:

1. Lack of secure land title for a majority of the farmers, which restricted the functioning of both the land market and the market for long-term investments in land and agriculture.

2. Inadequacies in the agricultural marketing system, which failed to generate sufficient, reliable, and effective demand at the farm level to stimulate greater production of cash crops (particularly high-value tree crops that require a long-term investment).

3. Limitations of the plant propagation system,8 supporting the diversification effort, which limited farmers' ability to respond to market demand for tree-crop products.

4. Decline in banana income, which reduced the availability of resources for investment at the farm and national levels.

8 A system providing small farmers with cash-crop saplings grown in a government-run nursery.

To relieve these constraints, the Government proposed structural reforms in three areas:

1. Land registration and tenure individualization. Provide all current landholders with clear title. Inaugurate an experimental programme to provide holders of family-land with the opportunity to consolidate ownership.

2. Market promotion. Strengthen the private-sector marketing system while supporting the expansion of high-value crops with strong market potential.

3. Short-term support. Increase banana production through a replanting programme, critically needed to halt the decline in banana shipments and to strengthen the agricultural-income base in the short term.

The Land Reform Commission of 1979-1980 had already contributed significantly to increasing the public awareness of the complexity of land reform issues.9 The commission's public hearings in Castries, Dennery, Vieux Fort, Micoud, and Soufriere; the documents the commission presented; and media coverage of the commission's work all helped to create a popular demand for new reforms. Not only did public opinion support the need for registration and titling, but large sections of the population, beyond partisan lines, began to take an interest in land use, the availability of good lands for agricultural and rural development, and the importance of zoning for specific industrial, residential, and recreational purposes.

9 Land Reform Commission, Land Reform Commission; Final Report, Castries, 1981.

The available experience and information gained from the Morne Panache Pilot Project enabled the Government to begin the first structural reform, or LRTP, as soon as possible.

The United Nations Development Programme provided financial assistance in the drafting of legislation for a new land registry, procedures for surveyors, and conditions for land adjudication. The costs of a nationwide titling exercise, however, required assistance from an external agency. Following a favorable response from USAID, the Saint Lucia Government signed a contract with United Aerial Mapping Inc., a consulting firm from the United States, to implement the LRTP.

3.2 LRTP design

Prerequisite to the implementation of the LRTP, was the passage of four new national laws. The first law, the Land Registration Act, replaced the legal code of the ineffective deed-registration system with new legislation allowing for the establishment of a modern system of land records and land rights. The Land Adjudication Act provided legislation to establish a systematic survey of parcels and a process of title adjudication. The Land Surveyors' Act provided for the licensing of surveyors, the conduct of surveys, and the preservation of survey marks. The fourth law, the Agricultural Small Tenancies Act, clarified the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants of small agricultural leaseholds. Appendix C discusses the legislation in greater detail.

The ASAP land registration and tenure individualization reforms were designed to produce four results:

1. A survey of all lands outside the National Forest Reserve and the metropolitan area of Castries, boundary demarcation of existing holdings, identification of land owners, and a recording of these data.

2. A new land registry system based on this survey.

3. A land tenure code embodied in the new legislation to regulate and record private land transactions.

4. A tenure individualization programme in the Saint Lucia Development Bank to finance the conversion of family-lands to individual ownership.

Due to a lack of funds and mounting cultural resistance, the Government could not go forward with the tenure-individualization programme. The budget for the programme included an initial capital of US$ 100,000,10 with additional financing of US$ 400,000 to be generated by the banana-replanting programme, and US$ 970,000 in Government debentures. These monies were needed to carve 450 individual smallholdings out of existing family-lands. The Development Bank planned to offer 10-year mortgages at commercial interest rates of 11 to 13 percent for 80 percent of the holdings valued up to US$ 20,000. The farmer's share in the family-land being purchased would count toward the 20 percent down payment, and family shareholders would receive the value of their shares in cash and debentures. However, without the banana-replanting programme, expected reflows were not available.

10 USAID, "Project Paper on Saint Lucia Agricultural Structural Adjustment Programme (Project #558-0090, AID/LAC/P-129)," Washington, D.C., 1983, pp. 12-21.

More fundamentally, there were cultural obstacles to such a programme. Many family members maintained their right to ownership for the sense of independence and long-term security it provided. This could not be measured in the monetary values set forth in the programme's original guidelines.11

11 D.G. Woodson, "Social and Cultural Aspects of Land Tenure in the Morne Panache Titling and Registration Pilot Project Area," Office of the OAS General Secretariat, Castries, 1982.

Moreover, given the known extent of family-landholdings in the society, the target of 450 holdings is not a substantial number. Successfully implemented, the programme would only have been a symbolic gesture. Even if some family members were willing to sell, poorer farmers would not have been able to buy their shares at the land prices being considered - up to US$ 20,000, approximately EC$ 52,000 - or to meet loan repayments of about EC$ 7,000 a year.

Therefore the Government found it necessary to reduce the scope of the Agricultural Structural Adjustment Project to include only the LRTP. The LRTP activities consisted of land-registration, preliminary establishment of a modernized land registry, and adjudication of parcels throughout the country (except in the Forest Reserve). Activities continued through July 1987. Project savings eventually made possible the expansion of the LRTP to include the Castries area as well.

Legally identifying landowners does not, by itself, eliminate existing inequalities in the landowning structure, nor does a reorganized registry, in itself, guarantee the end of ownership disputes over family-lands. However, as one component of an integrated development policy, the LRTP rendered a substantial service to the society of Saint Lucia: reducing the possibility of fraudulent transactions, providing the improved information base and organizational mechanism essential to efficient administration of land-tenure questions, introducing modern techniques, and training local personnel in the use of these techniques.

3.3 LRTP assessment

To appraise the on-going experience being gained through the LRTP, and in response to a growing interest among other Eastern Caribbean states, the Government of Saint Lucia, the OAS, and USAID jointly sponsored the Symposium on Land Registration, Tenure Reform and Land Information Systems in October 1986.12 At this time, United Aerial Mapping had completed one year and nine months of its three-year contract, and had demarcated, surveyed, and recorded the information for 17,491 parcels amounting to 86,350 acres. Almost 50 participants attended the three-day symposium, representing a wide range of skills and expertise from the Eastern Caribbean, United States, United Kingdom, and international assistance agencies.

12 Government of Saint Lucia. Proceedings of a Symposium on land Registration. Tenure Reform and Land Information Systems, Castries, 1987.

The Symposium sponsors cited the following long-term benefits to be expected from national land registration:

1. An alleviation of problems in the conveyance of real property.

2. A reduction of lands having multiple owners.

3. A substantial increase in agricultural production (after small holders receive clear title and obtain access to credit).

4. A rise in land values due to increased investments.

5. The use of the cadastral data base to systematically update the valuation of real property and to rationalize land and property taxation.

6. The expansion of the cadastral data base into a land information system to benefit development planning and implementation.13

13 Ibid., pp. i-ii.

As these benefits are long-term, they could not be evaluated at the time of the Symposium. The Land Tenure Center of the University of Wisconsin is currently examining the extent of these benefits for USAID.

During the Symposium, participants discussed the Saint Lucia LRTP "against the background of different needs and experiences in other OECMS member states and also in the context of selected regional and international experience in land registration and international experience in land registration and titling."14 Proceedings were divided into six modules. Appendix D offers a detailed discussion of the technical, legal, and socio-economic issues addressed in these modules.

14 Ibid., p.i.

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