FSMIS (August 23, 2013): Diane L. Ley, Executive Director of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Hawaii under the United States Department of Agriculture made a courtesy call on the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President Manny Mori in Palikir, Pohnpei on August 22.
Director Ley’s jurisdictional duties include the Micronesian regions, operating out of FSA administrative center in the State of Hawaii. Her main mission on the trip has more to do with exploring the feasibility of extending the FSA microloan program for small farm operations in the FSM.
Ms. Ley explained that the program aimed at assisting family farms build their “capacity for success” through loan financing and hands-on assistance relevant to planning and managing of credit. She said assisting farmers in accessing loan to improve production and overall business capacity would help build wealth, stabilize communities and contribute to economic development.
President Mori thanked Director Ley for making the worthwhile effort in taking the trip and invited her to make the most of her first experience of Pohnpei and the FSM by visiting places apart from the focus of her work.
The President shared some views on the feasibility of the FSA microloan program in the FSM, stressing the outstanding need to avail infrastructures and systems that facilitate mobility and access between commerce centers and remote farming locations.
While agriculture has been a priority development sector in the FSM for years, the President expressed that for some reasons, “we have been unable” to get to the productivity level that sustains import-substitution volumes for certain agricultural crops, let alone be competitive on the outside market.
Given his years with the FSM Development Bank, President Mori commented on the need for local entrepreneurs such as farmers to be more “business-oriented” and discipline with their finance to sustain operation down the stretch and prevent loan default.
“It is relatively easy to get the loan but very hard to pay it back.”
The FSA microloan program has a repayment timeframe. “Failure to repay will have consequences”, Ms. Ley underscored.
|L-R: DCM Ordonez, Director Ley and President Mori|
President Mori invited Ms. Ley to consider working through the FSM Development Bank system to better appreciate the small loan challenges and opportunities in the FSM.
Director Ley was accompanied by Deputy Chief of Mission Miguel Ordonez from the US Embassy.
Also present at the meeting were Chief of Staff Leo Falcam Jr., Assistant Secretary Alissa Takesy and other staff from the Department of Resources and Development, Mr. Berlino Martin from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Ignacio Stephen from the FSM Development Bank.
For more information on the FSM microloan program, see the link below.http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/newsReleases?area=newsroom&subject=landing&topic=pfs&newstype=prfactsheet&type=detail&item=pf_20130115_farln_en_microln.html