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By MAIKA BOLATIKI
The Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has issued a moratorium on agricultural land being used for other purposes.
Permanent Secretary for Sugar, Lieutenant-Colonel Manasa Vaniqi confirmed this yesterday adding that it would help protect agricultural lands.
A moratorium is a delay or suspension by law of an activity. In a legal context, it may refer to the temporary suspension by law to allow a legal challenge to be carried out.
Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said only land that has been scientifically proven that it could no longer be used for agricultural purposes would need to be continued to identify the best land use option.
“I can confirm to you that I’ve received this moratorium issued by the Prime Minister who is also the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources,” Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said.
Approximately 12 per cent of the nation’s total land area is now left for farming.
This figure was from a conservative assessment of the remaining agricultural land. The moratorium would also allow Government to consider on a case-by-case basis the need to convert agricultural land for other purposes like tourism and commercial development.
He said many developments had been done on agricultural land without proper consultations.
The conversion of agricultural land for economic development especially within the corridors of urban centres would also be considered favourably in recognition of the need to facilitate the growth of these sectors. Lieutenant-Colonel Vaniqi said the moratorium was in line with Government’s effort in reviving the sugar industry.
The Ministry of Sugar has called on landowners in all sugar belt areas to make good use of the leased lands that had not been renewed.