Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NLTB works on land use

Fiji Times - Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CONSULTATIONS between Native Land Trust Board officers and landowners are still ongoing says Native Land Trust Board General Manager Alipate Qetaki.
He said they wanted to focus on the issue of better utilisation of land when discussing lease extensions or renewals.
"What is required is a proper balancing of all interests and to ensure that we reach a win-win situation," Mr Qetaki said.
He said no problem had been been encountered by the NLTB consultation team, which have been discussing with farmers on issues and Government's expectation with the landowners.
Mr Qetaki said they were aware of expiring and expired dairy leases.
"Farmers are advised to talk to NLTB in good time. NLTB also discusses landowner issues with farmers so that they are aware of these. NLTB is part of the effort to see that agricultural leases, including dairy leases, are extended," he said.
"There are landowner issues that need to be addressed. Some of these issues are now being addressed and resolved by the Government like the rent subsidy scheme."
He said there was a problem of rent arrears which someone had to pay and there was also the question of premiums and farmers had been advised that a win-win situation was to be achieved for all.
Mr Qetaki said it was normal for the tenant to indicate an intention to have a lease extended and this would trigger renewal mechanisms set out in the NLTB regulations.
"Most of the dairy leases are for 99 years so it is normal procedure that the landowners are consulted on the matter after the land has been alienated for so long," he said.
Last week, Rewa Co-operative Dairy Limited chairman Josefa Serulagilagi said most of the farmers whose land leases expired at the end of this year supplied between 1000 to 2000 litres of milk to the company every day.
He said these were "big- time farmers" with large farms and were major suppliers to the company.
"These farmers are from the Korovou, Waimaro and Wainivesi areas and if their leases are not renewed, it could add further problems to the company," he said.
He said there was a team in place to liaise with landowners and the Native Land Trust Board on the expiry of land leases issue, its effects and the need to renew these leases.
Head of Govermment Voreqe Bainimara was briefed by dairy farmers on the expiry of leases.
At least seven leases will expire by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, consultations will be held between the Public Service Commission and Ministry of Agriculture senior officers on complaints raised by the Rewa Dairy farmers.
PSC chief executive Parmesh Chand said he was aware of the issues raised by dairy farmers during their meeting with Commodore Bainimarama two weeks ago. "We will consult on deficiencies in manpower or work practices and how it can be rectified," Mr Chand said.
He said it was their duty to see if there was " lack of resources and we will attend to that".

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