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Farmers Welcome Compensation

Widow Chura Wati could not hide her joy yesterday. The 69-year-old, who owns a three-acre sugracane farm in Damasi, Tavua, said the compensation she received for damage caused by stray
16 Jan 2016 11:57
Farmers Welcome Compensation
he Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (back row, wearing tie), with farmers who received compensation at Yaqara yesterday. Photo: Nemani Delaibatiki

Widow Chura Wati could not hide her joy yesterday.

The 69-year-old, who owns a three-acre sugracane farm in Damasi, Tavua, said the compensation she received for damage caused by stray cattle was a welcome relief.

She thanked the Attorney-General and Minister for Public Enterprise Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for the compensation.

Ms Wati was among 109 farmers who received compensation ranging from $100 to $11,000 for damage they said was caused by cattle belonging to the Yaqara Pastoral Company Ltd, located between Tavua and Rakiraki.

Tavua farmer Manoj Kumar, said the dry spell combined with the cattle damage had hit farmers severely. He said the compensation would help farmers in these difficult times.

Farmer Davendra Sharma, 53, of Vitinavanua, Tavua, said he was happy with the compensation. It would help him in replanting sugarcane.

Shiu Narayan, 58, said stray cattle had damaged their cane and vegetables. He said the compensation would help.

Asivorosi Vulusova, 70, of Nananu Village appealed to Yaqara to repair the fences to prevent cattle stomping on their cane. He was thankful about the compensation.

Advisory Council member for Vitinavanua area, Vinod Kumar, said this was the first time that a Government had come down to the people and talked to them about their plight. He said the compensation showed a Government that was responsive to the plight of the farmers.

“I am proud of this Government for what it is doing to the people,” he said.

Simon Cole, chairman of Yaqara Pastoral Company Ltd, said like the farmers, the company was frustrated about the “ongoing and often deliberate cutting of fences to steal cattle and the lack of action by Police to identify the culprits.”

Mr Cole said: “In recent years we have lodged over 60 reports, but no action has been forthcoming.”

Acting Commissioner of Police, Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho said last night Police would revisit those reports and address the concerns of the company and the farmers.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government would stand up to its responsibilities because it owned the company.

He said the fences needed to be fixed and there was a need for proper enforcement.

He asked the farmers to help the company so that the problems did not happen again. He said there should be a collaborative approach.

On the compensation, he said, farmers needed to know that working it out took time because proper assessments of claims needed to be made.

“It is our responsibility that when we pay out, we don’t blindly pay out. It takes time. Some people over exaggerated their claims.

Government is there to help you and we want to hear your voice as well.

“When there is no one to hear your voice then Government is here to help you.”

He said some farmers just wanted the fences to be fixed instead of the compensation. He said farmers would get both.

He said there were a lot of people at his office everyday and a lot of them “even text me.”

“There are some other ways Government is trying to help you. There is free education, free water, free medicine, free textbook and we are trying to subsidise electricity.

“I want you people to think overall of what’s happening in our economy and what the Government is doing.”

 

Edited by Filipe Naigulevu
Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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