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Jamaican gov’t warns sugar growers against abusing loan program

Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Luther Buchanan (right), in conversation with Ambassador Derick Heaven, outgoing Chairman of the Sugar Industry Authority (SIA) (Jamaica Information Service photo)

San Juan, Nov 7 (EFE).- Attempt by some sugar growers to manipulate the system of loans established to boost output could jeopardize the entire program, the Jamaican government said Friday.

Some farmers have been “very creative,” taking out loans under one name and selling their crops under another name, the executive director of the Sugar Industry Authority, Derrick Heaven, said in a statement.

The SIA administers the Cane Expansion Fund, a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries venture intended to increase sugarcane production.

The fund accepts projected future harvests as collateral for loans to growers.

“I’m begging that the farmers, by their own action, don’t kill this credit scheme that is available. No other institution in this country is prepared to use crop lien as the means of securing loans,” Heaven said.

Historically, Jamaica has been a major sugarcane producer, but the island is increasingly an importer of sugar.

Sugar production in Jamaica for 2004-2005 was 125,400 tons, the lowest in six decades