The Mennonites who immigrate to Suriname don’t require the administration. They’ll invest directly in agriculture and take part in it on a massive basis. They will not be given land by the government, and extensive deforestation will not be permitted. For land in the west and the Brokopondo region, the Mennonites are negotiating with the local populations. At a press conference, Foreign Affairs, International Business, and International Cooperation Minister Albert Ramdin made the announcement.
Ramdin reports that after more than 2 years of discussion and consideration, permission has been given to the Mennonites to operate in Suriname. A three-year trial period for 50 families “for agricultural purposes only” has been agreed. The experience with Mennonites is positive when it comes to their productivity and export potential, Ramdin shares.
“We know they need large areas,” Ramdin says. “We were told they don’t need the government.” He explains that the group will provide the land and other facilities itself. “They will make agreements with the local populations about the use of land,” he says. “So it is based on own investments. Preparations are underway.”
The minister has been told that the land rights of Indigenous and tribal peoples have still not been resolved. This can cause even more complications. “Indeed,” he notes. “Those are exactly the things that need to be carefully considered.” He says that the Mennonites who are preparing the arrival are already in discussions with various groups in the interior. “We will facilitate them wherever possible,” Ramdin indicates. “We have not had any requests yet, but I know that they have had discussions with various captains and village heads inland, both in the west and in the Brokopondo area.”
Depending on how much land they find, a final decision will be made whether the company will be continued, Ramdin said. “They don’t get that land from the government,” he emphasizes. He responds to the rumors that 30,000 hectares should be deforested for the Mennonites. Deforestation actually endangers the country’s ‘carbon negative’ status.
Ramdin: “We have committed ourselves to combating deforestation. So no permission will be given to commit massive deforestation. This concerns agricultural land that has already been designated as agricultural land (which the Mennonites are looking for). So it deforestation, we will really pay close attention to ensure that it is not part of this planning.” Suriname wants to stop deforestation around 2030. An evaluation of the project with the Mennonites will be completed in 3 years.