COMMERCE and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris claimed yesterday that the K10 million from Government to assist cooperative societies is now posing a threat to middlemen who are ripping off rural farmers.
Mr Kapris said this in response to Sepik businessman John Simon, who last week made threats to block the Sepik Highway because he was forced out of a cooperative society property in Maprik where he had been conducting his business.
He said the Pacific Agro Industries was a cooperative society that was owned by the people and not individuals.
He also said the K6 million reported was misleading as the Government had allocated K10 million to bail the cooperative societies.
“As a responsible Government, we are entrusted to purchase the property on behalf of the illiterate rural farmers and we are also looking at buying a copra mill for rural people of Madang.
“When cooperatives get assets it becomes a threat to middle men who have been taking advantage and were paying farmers low prices for the crops for their own benefit,” Mr Kapris said.
“The Pacific Agro Industries is a cooperative society owned by the people. I want every farmer to benefit, not only businessmen.”
Mr Kapris, who is also Maprik MP, said businessman Mr Simon was like other businessmen from the area who had been doing business without complaining.
He said the threat to block the road was uncalled for, as the road was for the people and not for individuals to make threats to fulfil their business interests.
Mr Kapris accused Mr Simon of playing politics over the land issue in East Sepik province.