Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 07, 2018 (SKNIS): Two hundred and thirty farmers and fishers in St. Kitts and Nevis have benefited from the Government’s Agriculture Support Fund, which made available $1.5 million in loan funds at a five percent interest rate and $1 million in grant funds through the Development Bank.
To qualify for the grant, persons had to be registered fishers or farmers with the Department of Agriculture and active during the 2017 passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Everyone who applied was approved once they fit the criteria.
The grant committee included representatives from the Agriculture Department and the agriculture industry, Constituency Empowerment, the Ministry of Finance and the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The maximum grant amount which was given to each of the 230 beneficiaries was $7,000 and the minimum was $2,500.
During a significant ceremony on December 06 to distribute the funds, Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, said that, due to climate change, it is imperative that the government steps in to ensure food security.
The minister thanked Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris for including the project in the 2018 Budget.
“The prime minister is an astute financial person and understands that even though in 2018 we were talking about giving $500 to households earning under $3000, which will start this month and even though he has announced this morning a double salary for public servants in three consecutive years, he is still here today to say there will be a grant and a loan component for those in agriculture; [he is] managing the money of the country properly and ensuring every sector, every facet of our society, benefits from the stewardship of the Team Unity administration,” Minister Hamilton said.
The prime minister stated that this fund will help to advance agriculture in St. Kitts and Nevis. He said that as a former Minister of Agriculture, he was delighted to see the many farmers and fishers who have benefited from the fund. Prime Minister Harris added that farmers and fishers play an important role in the federation.
The Agriculture Support Fund was launched alongside the Government Employee Mortgage (GEMS) Programme on June 1st, 2018.