PARLIAMENTARY Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has appealed to the government for tax exemption on loans for agricultural input supported by Private Agricultural Sector Support Trust (PASS), to enable the basket fund to reach more farmers.
The advice was made here on Wednesday evening by the Committee's Chairperson, Dr Mary Nagu, pointing out tax exemption on agricultural input credits would promote the agriculture sector.
"This will also promote productivity of agriculture as more farmers will benefit from the agricultural input 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 will provide raw materials for production in industries.
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 poses 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 facilitated increasing productivity and technology adoption in agriculture through loans," he said. Mr Bohay pointed out other PASS impact in agriculture as promoting and facilitating paddy and barley harvesting using combine harvesters.
He noted further that PASS facilitated setting up the Agribusiness Innovation Centre which is geared towards promoting the growth of agro-processing businesses by helping farmers' access to knowledge on modern agriculture, networks, finance and markets.
"The centre will expand customer base of Small and Medium Entrepreneurship (SME) and some large corporate who directly support small holder farmers," he said.
The Private Agricultural Sector Support Trust (PASS) is a facility established in the year 2000 in order to stimulate investment and growth in commercial agriculture and related sectors