The agricultural reform passed by Colombia’s Congress this Wednesday is an encouraging step forward, but the law “should have been passed last December,” a rural leader told Colombia Reports on Thursday. The law was passed in an effort to facilitate access to credit, alleviate farmers’ debts, and strengthen production in the agriculture sector, according to an official statement from the Ministry of Agriculture.
The reform is a great help to farmers economically and in terms of seed reproduction, yet there is still a lot to be done to resolve the credit problem, said Cesar Pachon, spokesman for the farmers’ union Dignidad Papera in an interview with Colombia’s Reports. Throughout 2013 and 2014, farmers have been marching through the streets of Colombia, peaking in August 2013 when strikes paralysed the country.
“I hope that the government complies with their promises. They still haven’t organized or discussed anything to do with the environment or the negative impact the Pacific Alliance has had on agriculture and rural unemployment,” Pachon said.
The official statement from Agriculture Minister Mauricio Cardenas was positive.
“There are more than 100,000 rural families in Colombia that default on their repayment obligations for loans that amount to less than [US$10,500]. For them [the new law] extends the repayment period, reduces the amount owing and fixes a 0% interest rate for the first 10 years.”
- Interview with Cesar Pachon (Colombia Reports)
- ‘Congreso aprueba Ley de Financiamiento del Agro para consolidar reactivación del campo colombiano’ (Ministry of Agriculture press release)