8 Feb 2006

Fiji dairy farmers leaving the industry as land lease problems continue

11:24 am on 8 February 2006

Expiring land leases and the low price for raw milk are forcing Fiji farmers to abandon the dairy industry.

The Fiji Times reports that the move could cripple the dairy industry as farmers in Tailevu produce about 80-percent of the country's milk.

The chief executive of the Rewa Dairy Cooperative Limited, Savenaca Seniloli, says he is aware that milk supply from Tailevu has dwindled since the lease expiry problem started five years ago.

Milk supply has dropped from 8-million litres a year to 6-million.

Mr Seniloli says they have started talks with the Native Land Trust Board to treat this as a priority because they don't want the dairy industry to go through the same problem as the sugar industry where cane production has dropped by 33-percent to under 3-million tonnes

As well, dairy farmers are complaining that the price paid for their milk of 25-US cents a litre barely covers production costs when the same milk retails for 90-US cents a litre.