10 Jan 2008

Poor outloook for Fiji dairy industry

8:09 am on 10 January 2008

The future of Fiji's dairy industry looks dreary after some landowners refused to extend land leases to the farmers.

Fiji produces about ten percent of its dairy needs, primarily in Tailevu, while the remaining 90 percent are imported mainly from New Zealand.

The Tailevu Provincial Council chairman says the local industry is threatened after landowners rejected to extend six land leases late last year, which forced the tenants to close the farms.

Josefa Serulagilagi fears more shutdowns will follow.

"Long leases, ranging from 80 to 99 years, which are going to be expiring. As far as farmers are concerned, they are facing problems as far as trying to get their leases renewed from the landowners. Most of these landowners have been waiting for 99 years for their land to come back again to them."

Josefa Serulagilagi is calling on the government to make the leasing of land more attractive to the landowners or to offer training to those landowners who decide to take up dairy farming.