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Fiji Time: 1:48 AM on Monday 21 April

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Tribunal clarifies land issue

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, February 23, 2013

LAND that is best suited for sugarcane production will not be made available for other development unless approved by the government.

This was emphasised to canegrowers during a stakeholders' consultation at Drasa in Lautoka on Wednesday.

Sugar Industry Tribunal industrial commissioner Tim Brown was responding to concerns raised by growers that land used for cane production could be given up for other developments.

"The Prime Minister and Minister for Sugar Commodore, Voreqe Bainimarama, has made a moratorium that land cannot be used for other development if it is being used and is ideal for cane farming.

"Any development, apart from cane farming in these areas, will need the PM's approval," said Mr Brown.

He said growers needed to understand that developments already in place would have to continue as they were established prior to the moratorium being put in place.

"We note your concerns but whatever has already been done cannot be undone," he said.

Sugar Ministry permanent secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi said the moratorium was put in place to stop the wholesale conversion of large parcels of fertile land to other activities.

"In the past, there were incidences where there was a wholesale conversion of large parcels of fertile land previously used for cane production to other types of developments," he said.

"The moratorium was established and demanded that all stakeholders be aware that this land can't just be converted by anybody."