The Maryland Oil Palm Plantation has disbursed about US$170,000 among 159 farmers in Pleebo/Sodoken District, Maryland County as part of the company’s Cash Crops Payment Policy.
The fund is aimed at compensating farmers in the concession area whose crops were destroyed in a clearing exercise conducted by the management.
Deputy Managing Director John Barkemeni however has expressed dismay over alleged dishonesty exhibited by farmers during the process, and warned that this practice will not be tolerated.
Mr. Barkemeni clarified that the ongoing payment is being done on behalf of the Government of Liberia as the company would be reimbursed.
“The money expended here and before is on behalf of government; in other words, the company is spending it and the government has agreed to pay it back, be it in tax or whatever means the company and government will sit and decide”, Barkemeni added.
He continued: “If we disburse cash that is not acceptable or approved, we will have problem in the reimbursement; which is why we pay keen attention to issues that have been raised by the office of the Commissioner at the request of Senator Morais that we do a vetting.”
Some farmers are allegedly involved in making false claims and creating artificial farms with the intent to receive cash benefits from the company.
According to Barkemeni, about 98 farmers found in that category, were denied payment, pending thorough investigation to verify their claims.
Maryland County Superintendent madam Nazarene Brewer Tubman expressed delight for the program and stressed that agriculture is one of the priorities on the county’s development agenda.
Madam Tubman commended the company, farmers and other actors involved in the process, but urged them to resolve all queries peacefully, saying “I would like to admonish all involved to be courteous and respectful to one another. If there are any queries and misunderstanding, please have the discussion in a peaceful manner.”
The first ever female Superintendent of the county also cautioned the farmers to use the money received wisely by investing in agriculture for their own benefit and the benefit of their families.
In response, the farmers commended the company, but urged the management to speedily and carefully probe the case involving 98 of their colleagues to enable them get their just benefits.
The exercise, which is the 7th of its kind, brings to over US$1 million the total money that has been disbursed since the program started. The program was held in the Social Hall of the Cavalla Rubber Corporation in Gedetarbo, recently.
Scores of citizens, local officials, including Maryland County Agriculture Coordinator Beatrice Bowman and representatives of UNMIL attended the ceremony.