15 Aug 2005

Some indigenous landowners in Fiji looking to renew land leases early

11:03 am on 15 August 2005

Many indigenous Fijian landowners are reported to be pushing for early renewals of their tenant farmers' leases in order to secure income for themselves.

The Native Lands Trust Board says the landowners have learnt their lessons from the drastic actions of the past few years when leases were not renewed, they lost their incomes and the vacant land reverted to bush.

The Fiji Times says the NLTB's comments come as 60 landowners in Tavua have entered into early talks with tenants to renew leases which are due to expire in three years.

The NLTB's manager north-western, Solomoni Nata, is quoted as saying that more landowners are joining the list of those who want leases on their land renewed because non-renewals have created a vicious social and economic cycle.

He says it is sad to see land lying idle and farmers being displaced and forced to live in squatter settlements.

Mr Nata says Tavua landowners have told the NLTB they would renew leases on their land, with talks in their final stage and particulars to be made public this week.

He says it is disappointing that land has been turned into a political football with landowners and farmers caught in the impasse created by politicians trying to take advantage of the issue.