NAVUDI FARMERS NOT PLEASE WITH FIJI RESETTLEMENT ARRANGEMENT

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By Ruci Mafi

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 8, 1999 – Fiji Times)---Resettled farmers at Navudi, Seaqaqa say they want the Government to give them F$28,000 (US$ 14,238) compensation because their new lives are too difficult.

"I want the money. If they give it to me today, tomorrow I will leave Navudi because, as it is, we are struggling to find food to eat,'' said 76-year-old Raja Hussein.

But the farmers were told they were not entitled to compensation because they were resettled.

"We were not given any other option, and if they had offered us the money earlier we would have taken it instead of living like this,'' he said.

An angry Mr. Hussein said a Cabinet visit to Navudi yesterday was a joke.

"All they have offered us was food rations for three months,'' he said.

Mr. Hussein said if the Government refused them the standard compensation he should be given F$3,000 (US$ 1,525) to start afresh.

"This means building a proper home, buying food and most importantly, sending my children to school,'' he said.

Mr. Hussein said crops he planted in Navudi since they settled there three months ago withered and died and his vegetables did not grow at all.

"We have no money to buy food, and the land is not good. My children have left school and traveling to town is so hard,'' he said.

Farmer Bimal Kumar said the Government had not properly designed its resettlement plans and farmers were suffering in the process.

Mr. Kumar said he had already wasted money trying to farm the land the Government gave him and his family.

"All we need is some money to get us started until the first crop is harvested,'' he said.

Mr. Kumar said both the old and the new governments were not to be blamed.

"Blaming each other is foolish and irrelevant and will not solve our problems,'' Mr. Kumar said.

What is important is the present problems we are facing, and that is we are in desperate need of financial assistance to be able to live.

"That F$ 28,000 is better for us.''

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times).

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