Turkish Investor Replies to Complaints of Peasants from Lanchkhuti
Nino Mshvidobadze, Guria
Turkish businessmen have leased 273 hectares of cornfields in three villages in Lanchkhuti district – Jurukveti, Lesa and Chibati. Humanrights.ge has already published an article about this issue - Peasants Want Terms To Be Fulfilled By Investors In Lanchkuti Villages.
Memed Kambur is originally from Lazistan. He first arrived in Lanchkhuti with his wife in 1996 and, he said talking to humanrights.ge, started out in the frog business.
Memed Kambur: “I come from Lazistan. My father was a child when his family moved from Georgia but I decided to return here. Initially I started a frog business because it has succeeded in many places and I hoped we would succeed in Lanchkhuti too, but I was mistaken. This business requires a lot of work. After our frog business failed, I decided to start a nut business.
-When did you get interested in agricultural plots?
-Lanchkhuti is among the most backward districts in the field of agricultural development. There is no factory or enterprise here. When I was wondering what we could do here, several people told me they could not cultivate cornfields. So, I decided to grow corn and initially I leased 73 hectares of land in Japana village for 10 years. When they saw that we had cleaned and cultivated the land, residents of other villages also wished to cultivate their plots too.
-Did the villagers personally apply to you?
-No, they did not. In Lesa village, for example, the village governor contacted us.
-What did you agree on with the local population?
-I inquired about their conditions and they said they would pay either 400 kg of corn or 200 lari per hectare of land. I learned that there was 60 hectares of uncultivated land in Lesa village. I personally met the villagers - most of them are poor. So, I added 100 kilos more to their reimbursement so that I would pay them 500 kg of corn per hectare and, if the peasant is ill, I even add some money.
-Have you signed any agreements with the population?
-Yes we have signed contracts and have paid money to them.
-Mr. Memed, several peasants told Human Rights Center that you have not signed agreements with them so far.
-We have much work to do, so maybe we have omitted some details and did not sign contracts with those people, to whom we promised to give corn as reimbursement. We will pay them after collecting the harvest.
-Do you sign contracts with everyone?
-Yes, we will sign contracts with everyone. If we have omitted someone, it might be a result of our workload or because we pay them in nature. I want to underline that we pay more money to sick people, than stipulated in the contracts.
-How many hectares of land have you leased in Lanchkhuti?
-We have leased 273 hectares and we have cultivated all of it.
-Several people suspect that you might purchase the land in several years. Are there any grounds for their suspicion?
-It is impossible. Georgian law prohibits foreign citizens from purchasing cornfields.
Humanrights.ge checked with the Civil Registration Agency whether foreign citizen can purchase a cornfield in Georgia or not. The CRA replied to our question online on their official website: : “An agricultural plot shall be assigned to a foreigner and legal entity registered abroad as a private property if the plot was received as a heritage or the foreigner lawfully owned the plot as a Georgian citizen. In other cases, a foreign citizen cannot purchase an agricultural plot in Georgia.”
Humanrights.ge got in touch with several people who said that they are going to receive corn as reimbursement but have not yet signed any contracts.
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