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Bid to avail farming land

Matilda Simmons
Friday, June 30, 2017

IN a bid to boost organic farming in the country, the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources has started identifying vacant and unused State lands to convert for organic farming ventures.

Ekevati Saumadu of the Lands Department said while they're at early stages of the project, they had managed to identify 455 acres of land in the Western Division with leases that would expire in three years' time.

"To identify land for organic farming is sometimes challenging as some of the State lands are leased land. We had to identify which one is vacant and which one had breaches to the terms of the leases so we can put it up and make it available for organic farmers. It's hard as some of the land still have 20 to 30 year leases," he said.

He added their department had written up their report on those leases that had breaches (meaning it had not been cultivated and left idle).

"It's a hard process because you have leases there and we have to follow procedures before it's cancelled. So that is the first hurdle we have to do; to get those lands free.

"Once that's done then we'll have to change some clauses and conditions on the lease. We are trying our best to get it done by the end of the year, so at least some of the lands are made available and then we'll advertise it."

He added they would also look to the Central and Northern divisions to identify some of the State's vacant land.

He made the comments while presenting at a discussion forum for local organic farmers, producers and stakeholders at the Ranadi Plantation in Pacific Harbour.

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