15 Mar 2005

Fiji's vice president warns of sugar industry collapse over land problems

2:09 pm on 15 March 2005

Fiji's new vice president has warned that failure to solve land tenure problems may spell the end of the country's sugar industry.

The Fiji Times reports that Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi issued the warning when he opened the Fiji National Consultations on Global Partnerships for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts.

Ratu Joni says land remains an intractable issue, with debate on it starting and ending with the fact that indigenous Fijians own most of it.

He says in order to break the impasse, alternatives must be found to make tenancies viable and attractive to lessees.

Ratu Joni says if no alternative is found, the agricultural sector, a source of livelihood for a significant segment of Fiji's population, would be compromised.

He says indigenous Fijians need to ask themselves if the status quo in respect of native land is adequate.