Agriculture Minister Johnson Drigo has vowed to discontinue a trend which he said currently exist where a number of farmers apply for farming assistance under false pretences and never repay.
He said many have cheated the state and he will ensure that this will come to a halt during his tenure as the Minister of Agriculture.
“A number of our farmers have received assistance from the government in a revolving fund process and refuse to contribute to this fund,” Drigo said. “They have taken thousands of dollars and some have left the state, some have spent the money in other things not relating to the farming sector.”
He remarked that, surprisingly, many of these delinquent farmers who top the list are those he labeled as “the big mouths” and “loud talkers.”
“This cannot continue and I will ensure that it doesn’t continue under my ministry,” Drigo vowed.
As a consequence, farmers who wants to borrow funds must apply through the Agricultural and Development Bank (AID) Bank.
“The AID Bank, as we speak, is creating a facility to assist farmers who wants to go into agriculture,” he pointed out. “The funds are available but you will get it through the bank structure to ensure that you are committed to repaying…”
He said the funds will be ‘soft loans.’
Drigo added that the government will also continue to assist farmers through the Agriculture Investment Program (AIP).
“We realize that farmers will definitely need capital going forward but government has to take measures to ensure that funds are available for farming goes into farming and that’s why it might be a little difficult in accessing funds,” he explained. “But for sure we have given millions of dollars in the farming sectors, based on reports that I have a lot of the farmers never made one cent contribution back.”
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health announced that they are getting tough on medical bills adding that while persons seeking medical attention will not be denied because of their inability to pay, those who are able to, will be required to pay up.