Cabinet has approved the provision of $1,220,893.36 to clear outstanding lease payment and lease arrears for 218 farmers.
This will facilitate the issuance of long-term leases (50 years) to 218 farmers and encourage them to continue farming.
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said the assistance will boost the sugar and non-sugar sector’s long-term viability and sustainability.
Rabuka said it will also incentivize farmers to continue farming, and thereby discourage rural to urban migration.
Moving forward, he said sustainable practices and diversification is necessary for the agriculture sector’s resilience beyond such short-term assistance.
Encouraging technological advancements and innovative farming practices will also enhance the efficiency of cane farming.
The Taskforce was formed in September 2023 to deal with issues regarding land leases, renewals and land premiums for sugar and non-sugar agricultural land.
Following consultations, the Taskforce noted that a total of 2,180 agriculture leases will be expiring in the period of 2023 to 2030, including the lease rental arrears of 218 farmers.
Cabinet has also approved the Ministry of Finance to further assess the renewal of 1,780 TLTB leases that will be expiring from 2023-2030 and propose necessary lease premium initiatives in the 2024-2025 Budget.