13 Jun 2002

Fiji;s Sugar Commission Chairman says land lease problems have hurt the industry

10:20 am on 13 June 2002

The Chairman of the Fiji Sugar Commission, Gerald Barrack, says the number of farmers displaced in the country's sugar industry because of expiring leases is a human tragedy.

Mr Barrack also says politics has caused the sugar industry to incur hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

Radio Fiji says he made the comment at a seminar on Fiji's economy organised in Suva by the University of the South Pacific and the Australian National University.

Mr Barrack says the industry is suffering badly due to the lack of a resolution to the land lease problem.

He says of the four thousand sugar farm leases that have expired, only thirteen hundred have been renewed

Mr Barrack says this has left two thousand seven hundred farmers displaced which he has described as a human tragedy.

Mr Barrack says it is not too late for Fiji to recover from the depression in the sugar industry.

But with nearly a quarter of a million people in Fiji directly or indirectly involved in the sugar industry, a solution has to be found soon.