Lazy may lose land
Monday, August 08, 2011
THE iTaukei Lands Trust Board has asked Government to introduce laws that would make it easier to remove lazy farmers who breached their contracts by not farming cane on leased land.
The request follows mounting land rent arrears and the revelation that some cane farmers who have a lease to farm cane on occupied land are not doing so.
TLTB general manager Alipate Qetaki said this resulted in farmers not being able to pay land rent.
"TLTB established that some farmers have breached their contract with the FSC by not cultivating cane even though they have valid leases," Mr Qetaki said.
"TLTB is working closely with the Government, Sugar Tribunal, Fiji Sugar Corporation and cane growers' representatives to find a sustainable and acceptable solution."
"The Sugar Tribunal can only cancel the cane contract but has no power to displace the tenant or farmer and find a replacement."
Mr Qetaki said the TLTB has also proposed a sector approach where they would work closely with stakeholders including government departments to help in the collection of land rent.
"Rent arrears have accumulated over the years and agricultural tenants are the worst offenders," Mr Qetaki said.
Land rent arrears owed to TLTB total $24 million of which agricultural tenants owe $13.5m and cane farmers $4.4m.
"TLTB as landlords must follow the rent recovery and eviction process and this is what we are doing which is very costly," Mr Qetaki said.
GPS plotting of farms
Ministry of Information
Aug 08 |12:34 pm
Remote monitoring of agricultural farms around the country through satellite technology will augur well for decisions about the sector, based on solid data.
A total of 278 farms around the country were plotted using Global Positioning Systems from April to June this year.
It’s one of the major achievements of the Department of Agriculture for the second quarter.
Permanent secretary Lt. Colonel Mason Smith said modern technological applications made the sector more relevant to the contemporary business climate.
The GPS plotting allows the department to monitor farms without making physical inspections, consequently cutting down on operational costs and at the same time collecting data that forms a concrete base for decisions on developments.
“What the GPS plotting will indicate to us is whether or not the farms are increasing in size,” he said.
“So when we look at the farm project here at headquarters we are able to pull up on the map the exact coordinates of where the farm is and the infrastructure on the farm that we have built or the farmer has built themselves.
“Over the years we will be able to look back on the farm and see whether the farm has gone down in size or improved.
“And that will give us an indication of the progress or otherwise of farming activities.
“I don’t have to actually go down on the farms, although I normally do, but we will be able to get farm images via satellite.
“The first round of GPS readings has gone around the country – we will do another one very shortly after the team has submitted all reports to the data collection centre.
“This is important to the agricultures sector, especially in the way the sector can contribute more to national economical growth because everything should be based on data and that is part of the data collection that we have.”
Bua – 12 farms
Macuata – 46 farms
Cakaudrove – 43 farms
Nadroga Navosa – 129 farms
Tailevu – 22 farms
Namosi – 10 farms
Serua – 5 farms
Rewa – 4 farms
Vanuabalavu – 3 farms
Lakeba – 1 farm
Kabara – 2 farms
Oneata – 1 farm