NATION

20 Farmers Worried About Future

Ronil Prasad said they were given an option to move to another area. But, he added, the alternative site was currently bush. At least 20 farmers of Waidalice, Tailevu, are
18 Aug 2017 11:00
20 Farmers Worried About Future
Waidalice farmer Ronil Prasad said the Prime Minister’s Office had intervened earlier when iTLTB changed their stance. Photo: Arishma Devi-Narayan

Ronil Prasad said they were given an option to move to another area. But, he added, the alternative site was currently bush.

At least 20 farmers of Waidalice, Tailevu, are praying that the iTaukei Land Trust Board would allow them to retain their land.

The members of Namoli’s Kisan Sangh Co-operative became anxious after iTLTB officers came with new tenants for the land they had been farming on a large scale for many years now.

Their fear was confirmed after the farmers had individually applied for renewal of lease.

A 33-year-old farmer, Ronil Prasad, said at first iTLTB agreed.

However, over time this changed, Mr Prasad claimed. He said iTLTB wanted parts of his seven and half acres of land to be part of an area planned for subdivision.

He said they were given an option to move to another area. But, he added, the alternative site was currently a bush.

“I have worked hard on my farm and this is not just any small scale farming but large scale,” he said.

He said he exported his products to Australia and supplied prominent resorts and markets vendors as well.

“The land on which I currently have cassava is to be sold once I harvest it, I have been told,” he claimed.

He said the co-operative members had four meetings with the iTLTB officers last year.

“In the first meeting they said they were going to give the land and we had to apply for individual leases as they were no longer sub leasing,” Mr Prasad said.

The original lessee is Rama Krishna Mission, which subleased the land to co-operative members.

Everything was okay but the issue arose when they came in for land surveying, Mr Prasad claimed.

“Now they don’t want to give us the land that we had been farming on for years. Now they want to give it to other farmers from outside,” he said.

He said after the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office earlier, the iTLTB had offered them their residential area plus two acres away from their original land space.

Two other farmers, Mahen Prasad and Kamal Prasad who have been farming on their leased land for over 40 years now said all they wanted was to keep their land.

Mahen Prasad said his earning for a year was approximately $30,000 with the sale of cash crops. He said his family had survived on this income. He also invested in the farm and wholesale business.

The 58-year-old added he did not want to lose this land as his children and grandchildren would continue farming.

The farmers said they had meetings with various authorities but the response had not been favourable.

Attempts to get a comment by the Fiji Sun from the iTLTB’s have been unsuccessful.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  arishma.narayan@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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