The previous four weekends have been spent in Nickerie by Minister Parmanand Sewdien of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (LVV) discussing potential difficulties with the water boards and farmers from different polders. Due to, among other reasons, a lack of funding and the high cost of inputs, many regions are no longer sown. Farmers can borrow money from banks and other lenders with a high interest rate by pledging their home and land as collateral.
The minister met with the boards of all 12 water boards in Nickerie on Saturday, following a field trip to the Clara and Wasima water boards. He also gathered with the board of the National Development Fund for Agribusiness (NOFA).
LVV reports that the following decisions have been taken:
1. As of November 1, NOFA will pre-finance the smaller farmers who plant up to 30 hectares, for a total of approximately 10,000 hectares, whereby the harvest will also serve as collateral. At a later stage, medium-sized farmers will also be included.
2. A cooperative will be established in each polder, which will be jointly responsible for the repayments. Both the input supply and the sales of the members will take place via the cooperative.
3. The farmers will contribute to a savings fund that will be used to buy inputs and machines.
4. A professional administration system for the cooperatives will be set up with the support of LVV and NOFA. In consultation with the existing creditors, it will also be examined how to offer farmers relief.
The farmers are very enthusiastic about the agreements and offer their full support to this model. “Finally the government comes up with a fundamental solution to their problems. This solution doesn’t cost the government a penny. It’s just a matter of thinking ‘out of the box’ and working together,” claims a farmer present at the meeting.
The minister also indicates that he is satisfied that farmers now dare to take their responsibility and says that he will continue to establish strong institutions such as water boards, commodity boards, cooperatives, research and information, to eventually end up with Crop Insurance.