Council addresses challenges

LAND and financing continues to be an important part of developments in the agricultural sector, says Fiji Crop and Livestock Council CEO Lavinia Kaumaitotoya.

She said issues such as tenure, land security, approval processing, using land as collateral for financing to push commercial or semi-commercial farming, leasing approvals, land availability for farmers and those who want to expand were challenges faced by FCLC members.

“I would like to see policies pertaining to land issues being addressed and actioned, processing approvals quickened, and agricultural leases used as collateral be allowed.

“The other important factor is financing for agriculture. There is still distrust with our financing community after 2009 — two floods and a cyclone later, many of our farmers still have not survived and are still slowly picking themselves up. It has been five years.”

She said they needed financing policies that would address the imbalance of credit extended to the agricultural sector.

“Land leases are only issued on 30-year basis, however, financial and banking institutes haven’t updated their polices to use this as a collateral so a farmer is caught in a time cycle unless the lease gets extended then that is a different set of criteria and requirements. We need to make it easier to do farming as a business for those who wish to farm and feed Fiji.”