Farmers protest in Costa Rica asking for debt relief
About 200 Costa Rican agricultural producers protested Monday with tractors in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to demand greater government support for the sector, which claims to be burdened by debts.
Farmer Jorge Oviedo told reporters that they went to ask the Minister of Agriculture, Renato Alvarado, to support a bill under discussion in the Legislative Assembly that aims to help indebted producers.
He explained that the project provides for an economic rescue of farmers with debts along with actions to revive agricultural production.
“There are thousands of farmers who are losing houses and farms,” because they cannot pay their debts, said Oscar Campos, a rice producer.
“I have the property mortgaged and the payment will be expiring. If the government does not help me, I will lose everything,” said Jesus Calderón, a small producer.
Minister Alvarado agreed to receive a delegation of protesters after addressing them with a megaphone to express support for their demands.
“There has to be a national policy that includes banks” to support producers, the minister said.
“The banking law requires state banks to allocate 10% of their loans to agriculture, but today is around 4%,” he claimed.
Some 350,000 families in Costa Rica, a country of 5 million inhabitants, work in agriculture.
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