THE Ministry of Agriculture issued a cheque of $3.72million as payment from the Committee for Better Utilization of Land (CBUL) programme to the iTaukei Lands Trust Board.
iTaukei Lands Trust Board General Manager, Tevita Kuruvakadua, while acknowledging receipt of the payment, assured that the board would disburse the funds to individual landowners bank accounts.
A total of 1479 iTaukei landowning units whose land are leased out for agricultural purposes will receive this payment of which 733 in the Western Division, 347 in the Northern Division and 395 in the Central/Eastern Divisions.
Kuruvakadua said that landowners should expect these funds in their bank accounts by midday today.
The CBUL was an initiative set up by the Government in 2010 to assist farmers in agricultural areas especially sugarcane farmers whose land leases had expired while at the same time provides incentives for landowners to allow for leasing of their land which is lying idle.
The rent subsidy incentive addresses the inequitable return that landowners receive as rent on average five per cent of the Unimproved Capital Values (UCV) of ALTA charged by TLTB and top up by another five per cent by the Government to 10 per cent.
A total of $50.5m has been paid as rent subsidy by the Government since the start of the initiative in 2010 which has been paid out in full to landowners as TLTB does not charge any poundage.
Around 42 per cent of these payments have gone to landowners in Ba province while 32 per cent was paid to landowners in Macuata province.
The initiative has provided an equitable platform for landowners to allow leasing of their land and receiving a fair return in the form of land rent whilst compelling the farmers to be productive as they operate under the security of their land tenure.
It has a positive impact on the renewal of expired leases especially for cane which has now reached over 80 per cent.
The CBUL initiative has had several significant economic and social spinoffs in providing security to TLTB tenants and their families, reverse relocation hardship from farms, sufficient land to support the sugar industry and other key economic sectors and equitable return to the landowners.