More Native land is being steadily reverted back to I Taukei (indigenous) Fijian landowning units, with more lands feed up for farming and development.
This was noted by Prime Minister and I Taukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) chairman, Voreqe Bainimarama during a recent public consultation in Lautoka.
The consultation was held to address issues regarding the sugar industry and native land, particularly cane leases, and touched upon the Committee for Better Utilization of Land (CBUL)- an initiative to assist farmers renew their agricultural leases and that matches native landowners with leasing incentives for their unutilized land.
Bainimarama confirmed that the Government released a CBUL payment of 3.72 Million Dollars to the iTaukei Land Trust Board to be distributed to a total of 1,479 land owning units, and 138,899 individual members’ bank accounts, at Yavusa (tribe), Mataqali (clan) and Tokatoka (extended family) level who have given their consent to renew agricultural leases under the CBUL initiative, in mid-February.
“This most recent pay out adds on to an impressive total: since 2010, Government has paid out more than $50 million dollars, and the impact is clear: the renewal rate of agricultural leases has increased from 47 per cent just seven years ago to over 80 per cent as of December 2017,” he said.
The Prime Minister added that the TLTB’s had also made progress in
facilitating the return of Schedules A & B lands to the iTaukei landowners who need them.
“After proper due diligence, this initiative has now been fast-tracked and is nearing completion. TLTB has already allotted a full 95 per cent of Schedule A lands, and 87 per cent of Schedule B lands, to their landowning units.
We are here to help determine how to best help our landowners make the most of their land. But the only way we can do so is through an open and facilitative dialogue. We are here to learn, we are here to listen, and we are here to help you grow both yourself, grow your businesses, and by extension, grow all of Fiji.
With your constant input, we are working to lay the groundwork for a system that is fair, predictable, and allows both landowners and tenants to plan for the future.”
The TLTB administers all Native leases in the country, and along with the Lands Department, has been directed by Bainimarama to ensure that lease holders are informed five years ahead of their leases’ expiry about whether the lease will not be renewed or further extended. The Prime Minister said this was to give farmers certainty and enable them to make proper plans for somewhere else to live if leases were not renewed.
“It is about giving leaseholders security and peace of mind - to enable them to properly manage their affairs and their lives.”