Grants approved for Agriculture Support Fund applicants

he Government's Agriculture Support Fund provides funding for farms like this.
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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– Two-hundred-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 5 percent interest rate and $1 million in grant funds through the Development Bank.

Applicants for the grant must 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 if 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 given to each of the 230 beneficiaries was $7,000 and the minimum was $2,500.

During a ceremony on Dec. 6 to distribute the funds, Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, said that, due to climate change, it is imperative that the government steps up 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,” Minister Hamilton said. “He understands that even though in 2018 we were talking about giving $500 to households earning under $3,000, which will start this month; 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.”

The prime minister stated that this fund will help to advance agriculture in St. Kitts and Nevis. As 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 1.

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