Farmers raise land rent concerns

Farmers in the Wailevu Tiri area during a consultation with officials from the Ministry of Lands yesterday. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

Farmers in the Wailevu Tiri area during a consultation with officials from the Ministry of Lands yesterday. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

FARMERS in the Wailevu Tiri area say they are feeling the pinch of rising sea levels. Their sugarcane farms are inundated with seawater during high tide.

Sugarcane farmer Akash Sharma said ground rent should be decreased for farmers in the area because land was becoming scarce as a result of sea level rise.

Mr Sharma said a portion of his land could not be used for agricultural purpose because of the amount of salt in the soil.

“Therefore I don’t see why land rent should be increasing every year when every year farmers like me keep losing land to the sea,” he said.

“It’s a bit unfair when you have to pay rent for land that you do not use anymore.

“We are in a helpless situation here and the increasing land rent is not helping at all.

“Something needs to be done to address the situation.”

Responding to this concern divisional lands officer northern Joseva Vuniamatana said land rent could not be depreciated compared with other assets.

Mr Vuniamatana said the department did not dictate the value of land rent.

The department’s survey officer, Penvel Govind, said people were still interested in buying land inundated with seawater.

Mr Govind said it was farmers and the market demand that determined the land’s price.

However, he advised Mr Sharma to surrender the portion of land which was affected by seawater so they could issue a grazing land lease for the area, thus decreasing the land rent.