22 May 2013

Fiji sugar industry still held back by land lease issues

7:49 pm on 22 May 2013

A Fiji academic says to restore confidence to the sugar industry issues such as the infrastructure in the cane growing areas and premiums on land leases need to sorted out.

Last week it was announced Fiji's cane farmers were heading for a record payout this season, while there are also reports the mills are now more efficient.

But economics professor at the University of the South Pacific, Dr Biman Prasad, says bigger issues remain, particularly with the renewal of land leases.

"For example farmers still need to pay premiums for lease renewals and many of them find this to be a challenge. So I would suggest that while government could be commended for looking at the milling sector where the efficiencies have improved, but I think more focus needs to put at the farm level and we need to restore much more confidence back into the farmers."

Professor Prasad says he understands the lease premiums can be more than 5 thousand US dollars.