The Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma, has said that she thinks that unused land should be leased out in her district of Labasa. Of course it is really up to each mataqali to make such a decision - however her initiative is a guideline.
But, why don't the men and women of Labasa lease the land back to themselves? They could start intensive vegetable and fruit farms, grow kura, ginger, cassava, etc. Sugar-cane, well, I don't think that is the way to go as there's very little financial reward for a year's work.
But the people could do very well with local food crops. Piggeries. Cattle - good for a rainy day - meaning the requirements to feed people at a wedding or funeral. Waiting for lease money twice a year isn't as good as being energetic and productive and having a hands-on relationship with the land.
Peceli's family land is in the Wailevu district, west of Labasa, but lots of relatives are in Naseakula and some family units own large tracts of land.
from Fiji Times
A big step on land
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
THE proposal by the Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta Ritova, to turn over unused Native land for lease is a step in the right direction. This move shows the goodwill of the landowners and is an open invitation to farmers to stay in the Northern Division. With this single step, however, small it may be, relations between the communities can make a massive leap forward.
And not a single interim minister, government official, politician or unionist was involved in this landmark decision. The people of Labasa, through their chief, have decided that this is the way for the landowners and tenants to benefit from land which, until now, had remained idle.
Detractors will say that the vanua of Labasa should have made this move in 1999 when leases on cane fields first started to expire. They will say that seven years have been wasted and countless families have suffered as a consequence. While there may be merit in these arguments, it is important to note that any dealings with land must involve the landowners from the initial stages.
Governments in the past have attempted to force the issue at their peril.
This newspaper, nine years ago, made it quite clear that the way forward would be found when the landowners found the right time. It cannot be denied that every piece of arable land in this country must be put to good use for the benefit of all. For too long the indigenous people thought it was easy for the land to be worked by diligent farmers.
Few landowners realised the tremendous effort, the sacrifice and sheer hard work which went into producing cane or rice from the land. That is why they demanded, with the backing of chiefs and political parties, the return of their land. This was their right ill-advised as they were, to make the demand for the return of the fields handed down through the generations. Now that the land is in their possession, the landowners have three choices: Till the land themselves, lease the fields to tenants or allow the soil to become overgrown.
Some villagers will choose the first option and succeed. These are the people who will foster a new generation of indigenous farmer which makes full use of their birthright and maximises revenue opportunities.
Landowners who choose the option of leasing the land will make money and, at the same time, foster a generation of villagers who are tolerant and willing to help people of all races. Those who choose to let the land lie idle are a disgrace to the country and to themselves. We salute the Marama Tui Labasa and the Yavusa Wasavulu for a brave, bold move. Adi Salanieta and her people have set an example from which we can all learn.
NLTB hails Tui Labasa’s plans (from today's Fijilive news)
19 MAR 2008
Fiji’s Native Land Trust Board has described the move by Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma’s initiative to renew native land leases in her district of Labasa as a noble one.
NLTB spokesman, Ro Alipate Mataitini confirmed that the Tui Labasa has decided to renew leases, which are under her jurisdiction to farmers in Labasa.
He also said that most of the native land in Labasa has been unoccupied since the 2000 coup and it was Adi Salanieta’s wish to lease the land out for agricultural purposes. “Most of the unoccupied land was used for sugarcane planting for so many years until the leases expired and farmers had no choice but to vacate the land. However it was the initiative of the Tui Labasa to see that the land is put to good use once again and we applaud such courage.”
Ro Alipate also said that various clans in the Labasa district will have to be consulted first before any plans take place. “It’s a normal process for Fijians to consult their sub-clans before going ahead with any plans and in this case Labasa is a big district so we have to work our way carefully.”