Leasing iTaukei land remains a challenge for at least half of the ginger farmers in Lomaivuna area, Naitasiri.
This was raised by farmers during a talanoa session with the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday.
Sayed-Khaiyum says communalism is hindering farmers from accessing loans and other financial assistance from the government and institutions like the Fiji Development Bank.
“Leasing the land from their mataqali and they know that it can be very easy for them because 60 percent of the members have to consent. They agree the mataqali agrees on how much premium they pay and the iTLTB will issue lease very easily.”
Farming was not prioritized in past decades, and Sayed-Khaiyum is reminding Fijians to change their perception as the sector is instrumental in trying times.
“There’s a lot of potential for use in the agriculture sector. So from the government’s perspective, we’ve taken a holistic approach to it. We need to have people who can grow the produce, we need to ensure they have long-term security on the land, and the key factor you need to have money – access to finance which is very important and access to finance that is not very expensive, as long as you service your debt.”
Sayed-Khaiyum says relevant arms of government, such as the Cooperative Department is ready to assist farmers through financial literacy, proper record keeping, and general operations to boost productivity.