26 Mar 2004

Fiji chiefs call for renewal of leases

11:26 am on 26 March 2004

The chairman of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has urged indigenous Fijians to renew leases if they don't need the land for their own use.

The Fiji radio station Legend says Ratu Epeli Ganilau made the call in response to a statement by Fiji's ambassador to Japan, Ratu Tevita Momoedonu, that his landowning unit at Viseisei near Lautoka has assured tenants that their leases would be renewed for 75 years.

Ratu Tevita says land should not be left idle because leasing it will generate economic growth and provide income for landowners.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says ambassador Momeodonu's action is a good gesture, and other landowners should do the same if they do not need the land for farming.

In recent years, more than 5,000 farm leases have expired with about 80 percent not being renewed, leading to thousands of families being displaced.