25 Nov 2003

300 Fiji farmers reported evicted in Vanua Levu lease expiry

11:40 am on 25 November 2003

A report from Fiji says 300 families from around the town of Labasa have been evicted so far this year on the expiry of their leases on indigenous-owned land.

The Fiji Times says that more small farmers are dismantling their homes to move on.

The newspaper quotes the northern regional manager of the Native Land Trust Board, Eparama Navaga, as saying that the board is searching for more land to resettle people whose leases have expired.

Distraught members of several families who were dismantling their homes yesterday after 30 years on their land, said they are leaving crops behind and do not know where to go.

Mr Navaga says the board is offering residential leases to farmers on the site of their homes, but they prefer to move off.

He says over eleven hundred tenants in Vanua Levu whose leases have expired have moved elsewhere.

Several high chiefs in Viti Levu are quoted as saying that land-owning units should renew leases if they themselves do not intend to farm the land.

A Ba chief, Adi Sainimili Cagilaba, says if there is no land to plant sugar cane, the industry will die and many people will be out of jobs.