Agriculture Minister Roland Bhola has made a plea for farmers who have received financial assistance from the various lending programmes of government, to repay their debt or face legal action.
Bhola said that over the years his ministry has disbursed in excess of EC$17 million in financial assistance to the nation’s farmers through different lending programmes, and very little of that money has been repaid.
“This was all part of government’s effort to assist with the development of the agricultural sector, but most farmers who received assistance — some as much as EC$40,000 — have not repaid this revolving fund,” he said on Thursday while delivering the feature during the opening session of a one day for Poultry Management training workshop.
Explaining that he was not bashing the farming community nor the farmers who were attending the workshop, Bhola said that research within the ministry and with other lending institutions have indicated that farmers’ compliance is a low 15%. “The noncompliance rate is as high as 85% and it’s for this very reason other financial institutions when approached, are not willing to lend farmers money so that the agricultural sector can develop,” he said.
Bhola called on farmers who know that they loaned money from government programmes to come into the ministry and make arrangements for repayment. He said that those who fail to take action will have action taken against them. “I urge those who have benefitted to come in to the ministry and talk to us about repayment; those who fail to repay will go to the court.”
The poultry producers were educated on the requirements of the CARICOM standard for poultry, which will soon be implemented in Grenada. The Bureau of Standards said that it is the first in a series of activities geared towards assisting the local poultry producers to meet CARICOM specifications in the production and processing of poultry.
By Linda Straker