Development bank commits $100m to agricultural sector
Source, Jamaica Gleaner
published: Monday | April 28, 2003
THE DEVELOPMENT Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has committed over $100 million in development assistance to the agricultural sector for the 2003/04 fiscal year.
This was announced by Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke, in his contribution to the 2003/04 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives last week.
Of the total, $25 million has been committed for the establishment of a sustainable marketing facility, principally for small farmers, while $20 million has been approved for the provision of affordable tillage service for small farmers.
AFFORDABLE TILLAGE THE PROBLEM
Minister Clarke told the House that the lack of affordable tillage had been a serious constraint to the production of domestic and other agricultural crops. He informed that the DBJ, working with the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), was finalising details for the provision of a tractor tillage pool service, which would provide this input to farmers throughout rural Jamaica.
PARTNERING FOR PRODUCTION
The remaining sum of $55 million has been allocated to a number of Ministry projects, namely, the Orchard Crop Development Programme, the Farm Rehabilitation Programme, under which 955 hectares (2,388 acres) of cocoa will be rehabilitated over a two-year period, and the Alliance with Farmers Programme, a private sector initiative, which involves land owners partnering with landless farmers and marketing companies for production.
It is expected that 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of various crops will be planted under this programme over time.
In recognition of the importance of irrigation to agricultural production, the Ministry has also obtained the Bank's commitment to include in the loans provided to farmers, amounts to facilitate the irrigation of their farms. This move would complement other irrigation schemes currently being implemented by other agencies.
The leading provider of development funds to the agricultural sector, the DBJ approved loans totalling $333.3 million to farmers for the financial year ending March 31, 2003.
Of the amount, $102.1 million was loaned to small farmers through the People's Co-operative (PC) Banks. The main sub-sectors which benefited were citrus, poultry/broiler, sugar cane and shrimp.
SUPPORT FOR SUB-SECTORS
The DBJ also continued to provide critical support for a number of major sub-sectors, chief of which was the sugar industry, where $1.7 billion was advanced to the sector for replanting, factory refurbishment and general working capital support. Loans totalling $222 million was also approved for the coffee industry during the last financial year.