Land use planning processes should encourage responsibility and support capacity development in landowners and land users.
This was the message put across by the Ministry of Agriculture’s principal agriculture officer, Vatimi Rayalu during a workshop to review the Ministry’s ‘Participatory Land Use Planning’ (PLUP) guideline in Suva this morning.
The review is being done with support from sponsors such as German Agency for International Corporation (GIZ), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
Mr Rayalu said the importance of land use plans in sustainable resource management cannot be over emphasized given that 90 per cent of land in Fiji is under customary ownership and located in “rural” areas.
“Participatory Land Use Planning tool needs to be recognized as fundamental to the goals of sustainable integrated development in all respect of livelihoods in Fiji,” Mr Rayalu said.
“The imperatives of continued development to expand production for an increasing population must be balanced by an understanding of the consequences of that development.”
He added that the planning process should increase the competence of local farmers and those involved in agriculture in land use planning and implementation; develop self-responsibility and autonomy in decision-making, and enhance their organizational capacities.
GIZ Participatory Land Use Planning specialist, Christine Fung highlighted that such planning approach ensures the sustainability of the communities by getting optimal returns while ensuring that resources are not depleted.
“Land use of the Department of Agriculture has come up with “tikina land use plan” to help support PLUP and we are trying to institutionalize this so all the different government and non-government agencies are aware of this approach and follow it,” Ms Fung said.
Mr Rayalu further highlighted that a lot of agricultural land is being lost to other forms of development therefore it was important for all agriculture stakeholders to agree on the successful use of these land.
“To ensure sustainable development, I urge that this process be seriously taken into consideration to allow decision makers to make firm decision without compromising the lives of our future generation,” Mr Rayalu said.
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