Postdate: 18/ 02/ 2008
Re: Land and sugarcane issues
I refer to the letter by Ravunibola Q. in FT 18/02/08, where he makes baseless allegations against CCF.
The CCF is very concerned that Ravunibola has not bothered to read the Media Statement made by CCF on the sugar issue, before jumping to the conclusion that the CCF stance on the land issue is similar to Mahendra Chaudhry.
I urge Ravunibola to read CCF’s media statement in which we express concern that racialising land and sugar matters detract from the real serious issues that both sectors need to deal with.
It is widely acknowledged that sugar cane may not be a viable crop for Fiji because the small scale of production is not producing sufficient returns for any of the stakeholders.
However, Fijians need to be concerned because if the sugar industry collapses, Fiji will face bigger problems. We call on chiefs and landowners to think about what will happen if the sugar industry collapses.
Landowners need to find strategies to cope now, because there will be an economic downturn in the West if the sugar industry declines.
Landowners and chiefs need to take this issue seriously and explore if there are any alternative crops that can replace sugar.
Landowners need to find alternative crops and also encourage indigenous Fijians to farm these alternative crops. They need to provide incentives to encourage people to keep investing in the towns in the West.
The recent census has revealed that Fijians have been leaving the rural areas and settling more in the urban centres. If the sugar towns in the West collapse, Fijians could well face an even bigger problem due to a higher possibility of rural-urban migration, because of a lack of development in their provinces.
Rev Akuila Yabaki