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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 24)—Indigenous Fijian landowners, who have blockaded a cane railway line in Ba for two weeks, are demanding a goodwill payment of 53-thousand US dollars before they agree to negotiate a renewal of the lease.

Radio New Zealand International reports a spokesman for the landowners at Sorokoba, Samuela Kautoga says they have agreed to negotiate a short term lease of seven years after the goodwill payment is made.

He says they will not lift the blockade until the payment is made because the Fiji Sugar Corporation has been using the railway on their land since the lease expired in April.

More than one-thousand tones of harvested cane has dried up and rotted because it cannot be taken to the Rarawai Sugar Mill and farmers have stopped further harvesting.

The general secretary of the National Farmers Union, Mahendra Chaudhry, who visited the landowners, said the blame lay with the FSC for not negotiating the lease renewal when it was expiring.

However, the Sugar Cane Growers Council has hit out at Chaudhry's actions.

The council's chief executive, Jaganath Sami, says instead of using his influence to get the landowners to re-open the railway line for the orderly harvest and transport of cane, Chaudhry has supported the landowners and inflamed the situation.

July 25, 2006


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