Village receives $250,000 payment for lease of customary lands
The villagers of Sasina are making good use of the $250,000 annual payment for the use of some 500 acres of customary land being leased to an Asian and Chinese investor.
More than 10 matai from the village were at the Maota o Samoa on Wednesday to receive the cheque that will be distributed to some 500 families of the village in the north coast area of Savai’i.
In accepting the cheque, village matai, Seve Avalua Panapa, said the investment from the village to lease its land has been beneficial to their community in assisting with developments.
According to Seve the money distributed to families has been used well with some buying cattle to start small livestock business.
Others have opted to use the financial assistance to renovate and rebuild their homes, added the matai.
“We have seen the fruits of this continuous investment made on leasing our lands through the annual payments,” said Seve.
“The investment is evidence of the Government’s scheme to lease our customary lands, but at the same time it is still protected and remains with us. We will continue to receive the financial assistance that has benefited us now for three years.”
The 500 acres of customary lands being leased belongs to the Village Council of Sasina.
Seve made it clear that the distribution of the payment will go towards the matai for their families, women committee and even the untitled men.
He gave an estimate of about $1000 disbursement for each family. The 500 acres of customary land is being leased and is planned for commercialising the growth of nonu trees for export.
Senior Member of Parliament for Gagaifomauga no3, La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao said commercial nonu farm aims to create employment for the village community of Sasina.
He said the payment was an agreement between the village and the Asian and Chinese investor who will manufacture and produce nonu juice from the nonu farm.
The name of the company is Uso Investment company.
As part of the agreement, La’auli said the lease of 120 years is subdivided to 30 years to protect the generations that are around during those times.
“Every 30 years whichever generation – if they want to continue (the lease) by looking at the advantage and disadvantages they can decide themselves to continue it if they want,” he said.
“This is evidence and proof that our customary lands are protected under the government scheme.
“I know there are controversies around the issue (customary lands) and we respect the views of others.
“We too want to ensure that no one loses any land, it is our blood and so not only do we want financial assistance we also want to protect our land.”