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Involve landowners

Felix Chaudhary
Saturday, August 16, 2014

GETTING landowners involved in the commercial aspect of sugar production and government taking over the leasing of all agricultural land for cane farming are some initiatives being suggested by the National Federation Party to move the sugar industry forward.

Speaking at a debate organised by the Nadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Fiji National University Namaka campus yesterday, NFP stalwart Jaganath Sami said he believed the party could resolve the land issue with its policies.

"Under the master lease concept that NFP is proposing, the agriculture land will be leased by the government and landowners will get their rent upfront supplemented by 4 per cent as an incentive to them for better tenure," he said.

"The idea is that they are giving the land for national development and that way the farmers are more secure because they will get a longer lease and as a result they will feel more confident in investing in their farms."

In terms of the sugar industry, Mr Sami — a candidate for the September election — said each sugar mill would be considered an independent business entity.

"In that, we are looking at three shareholders — one is the tenant the canefarmers, second is the landowner and third is the miller.

"The miller has to be a part of it mainly to oversee production and processing and the government of the day has a monitoring role.

"We believe this is how we could solve the land issue

"The landowners get the land rent and if the mill is making a profit, you get a dividend.

"Likewise, farmers get their cane price and also get a dividend if the mill is making a profit."

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