MACUATA chief Ratu Aisea Katonivere has requested a new legislation on land use and land leases to create an enabling environment for land use development.
In his seven-page submission in Labasa yesterday, Ratu Aisea said agricultural ventures like sugarcane farming was the lifeblood in the north as it had been in the past decades.
He said most cane farmers were second, third or even fourth generation farmers who had tilled the land and supplied cane for the sugar industry and when their leases expired, they were left in limbo as debate took place in the political circles.
"Because the displaced farmers urgently needed sources of livelihood, they opted to relocate to other parts of the country and also ventured into other forms of farming," Ratu Aisea said. "Their departure is a great loss to the northern economy as these are generations of cane farming families who have built our roads, fundraised for the establishment of some schools, erected businesses and provided employment opportunities to name a few. They were the ones who have worked to improve the way of life in their communities."
He requested the legislation that covered land leases be dealt with on a case by case basis whereby records of the community contribution of individual farmers or families were evaluated and acknowledged.
"What better way to acknowledge their hard work than to renew their leases and allow them to do what they do best — cane farming, otherwise large patches of land that used to be productive will be left idle," Ratu Aisea said.