15 Apr 2004

Fiji cane growers say keep politics out of land lease issues

10:40 am on 15 April 2004

The Sugar Cane Growers Council in Fiji is urging stakeholders in the industry to leave politics out of land lease issues.

Its call comes as a row is reportedly brewing on the matter between Fiji's Prime Minister and the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

Fiji TV reports that Ratu Epeli has publicly supported the retention of the current land lease law, known as the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act.

The Government has pledged to abolish the act in favour of the Native Lands Trust Act.

The head of the Cane Growers Council, Jaganath Sami, says Ratu Epeli's stance is based on facts and is an example for all to follow.

"I think it is important that all stakeholders need to look at it objectively and not politically and very narrowly. Because that will not help the sugar industry, it will not help the landowners, it will not help the tenants and the country as a whole."

DUR; 12

Mr Sami says the current legislation has provided tenants with security and is behind good production levels and industry investment.

He says that the industry's survival will be effected it it is removed for political reasons.