The misuse of subsidized government assistance will not be tolerated.

This was emphasized by Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy during an informal talanoa session with farmers of Benai Settlement on the outskirts of Koronubu in Ba yesterday.

While responding to issues highlighted by farmers of Benai, Minister Reddy said the practice of circumventing Government’s assistance for reasons other than its intended purpose was irresponsible of farmers who sought the assistance.

“Let me make it clear, the assistance which is provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, particularly that of land clearing and preparation is to be used for the sole purpose of crop farmers and not for sugarcane farms,” he said.

“Do not misuse the Government subsidized cost of tractor hours for land preparations other than crop farming, if you’re a crop farmer who has sought assistance from the Ministry for land preparation, use it for the purpose for which you had requested, to prepare land for your non-sugar agriculture,” Minister Reddy reiterated.

He strongly discouraged sugarcane farmers from attempting to access Ministry of Agriculture land preparation assistance for their sugarcane farms as the Ministry’s resources was limited and solely intended for crop farming.

“If you’re abusing the system, refrain immediately because there are other areas and farmers who are in desperate need of these services elsewhere and here you are, misusing the Ministry’s services, which would otherwise have been put to better use elsewhere to further another farmers progress. 
Hon. Reddy stated that similar land preparation was carried out by the Fiji Sugar Corporation for the benefit of sugarcane farmers and it would be negligent and reckless of them to continue abusing existing systems and processes for their own personal gain.

The Ministry of Agriculture offers a Government subsidized rate of $28.50 per hour for both land preparation and land clearing in comparison to the $450.00 per acre rate for land preparation (ploughing & harrowing), and $4,500.00 per acre for land clearing offered by private contractors.