THE PARLIAMENTARY Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has appealed to the government to waive tax on agricultural input loans supported by Private Agricultural Sector Support Trust (PASS) to enable the fund reach more farmers.
The call was made here on Wednesday evening by the Committee's Chairperson, Dr Mary Nagu, pointing out that tax exemption on agricultural input credits would promote the agriculture sector.
"This will also improve productivity in the agricultural sector as more farmers will benefit from the loans," said Dr Nagu during a workshop on Improving Quality of Life through Agribusiness Transformation by PASS.
Dr Nagu said agriculture was vital to help the fifth phase government attain its main agenda of industrialisation, adding that agriculture would provide raw materials to feed industries being established. Presenting before the parliamentary committee, PASS Managing Director, Mr Nicomed Bohay, said VAT tax on guarantee fund was depleting the fund and it might be liquidated as donors lose confidence to invest.
He informed the parliamentary committee that inadequate fund posed another challenge for PASS because there was high demand of PASS services from commercial banks and private sector agribusiness. Mr Bohay said up to last December, PASS had reached 561,325 agricultural entrepreneurs countrywide, saying 246,983 agricultural entrepreneurs, which is equivalent to 44 per cent of the beneficiary farmers, were women.
"We've played an important role in increasing productivity and technology adoption in agriculture through loans," he said, giving an example that some farmers were now harvesting paddy and barley using combine harvesters.
He noted further that PASS facilitated the setting up of Agribusiness Innovation Centre which was geared towards promoting the growth of agro-processing businesses by helping farmers' access to knowledge on modern agriculture, networks, finance and markets.