6 May 2005

Some Fiji landowners seek tenants' return

12:27 pm on 6 May 2005

The Fiji parliament's Select Committee on Land has been told that a majority of indigenous Fijian landowners want displaced farmers to return and cultivate their former farms.

The Fiji Times reports that this submission has been made to the Laisenia Qarase-chaired committee in Ba.

The landowners' submission said the few members who forced their tenants to flee the farms when the leases expired were misguided.

And, they have asked the Select Committee to ensure that the Native Lands Trust Board initiates a move to invite evicted or displaced farmers to re-occupy the vacant farms.

Ba landowner, Lusiana Vukinamualevu, said while it was encouraging that the committee was concerned about the well-being of the landowners, it also needed to consider the plight of farmers who had vacated their properties.

Ms Vukinamualevu, who presented submissions on behalf of a group of Ba landowners, said the committee should intervene in the NLTB's operations to ensure it took heed of the landowners' wishes.

She said even though many of them want the tenants to return, the NLTB hardly listens to the majority and only carries out actions based on the wishes of a few disgruntled landowners.