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Jan 17, 2018

Give Me a Break, Say San Carlos Farmers on Loans

On Tuesday News Five showed you firsthand the hopes and dreams of farmers in the San Carlos area of Orange Walk, who are hoping they will be able to get their crops to market without interference in the form of additional import licenses, higher taxes on fuel and poor infrastructure. But there is another issue that farmers have to confront: financing. Farming as a business requires significant financial investment to purchase seeds, land, fertilizer and other necessities, and if the profits are not ready for payback to the bankers, then trouble arises. In his interview with reporters on Tuesday, Orange Walk South P.U.P. area representative Jose Mai spoke to the travails farmers have with both the General Sales Tax Department and some of the local banks.

 

Jose Mai

Jose Mai, Area Rep., Orange Walk South

“Out of five years, three years farmers are failing: one of drought, one of excess water, one of disease, faced with high and compounded interest rates, the farmers are losing their shirt. I was in the neighborhood last week visiting farmers. I met three bankers in this area, seeking to collect [from] farmers who are owing them. The farmers are at a loss at this time, and there is no plan, it seems, for the government to address these issues. I met three different bankers here last week – and you can’t miss them, because they always have on a tie and driving a fancy vehicle – seeking monies owed to them. And as you can see these farmers have massive investments – you see those pivot systems? They had to pay G.S.T. to import those systems. G.S.T. on irrigation system to produce food is a no-no, even if you say you will get it back – you will get it back maybe one year down the road; by that time you already harvested the corn. Some farmers have G.S.T. reimbursement for three years pending and they can’t get it yet. Then they have to take government to court which is another fee. These are not policies put in place to assist the farmer.”

 

We are also informed that certain officials in the Orange Walk Agriculture Department are suspected of trying to skim monies from farmers with regard to sales of seeds for planting. 

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