Over 850 of the nation’s farmers have benefited from the ongoing loan programme since the launch of the Farmers Support Company (FSC) in February.
There are approximately 6,500 farmers registered with the Ministry of Agriculture and to date, over 2,000 loan applications have been submitted to the FSC.
Of the approved loans, over 80 are involved in livestock farming, while the remainder are engaged in banana, root crops and mixed farming.
Some 3,475 acreage of farms have been cultivated through the assistance of the FSC.
Manager of the Farmers Support Company, Charlene Garrick, sad the company is the support farmers have been waiting for.
Garrick, however, noted that while the company caters for farmers needs, the farmers have an obligation to repay their loan, in order for the company to be sustainable.
“With this said, I would like for the farmers to work along with the management team of FSC because the company cannot be sustainable without you. And for the company to be sustainable, it is in your best interest that repayments are done for loans that would have been issued to you and not only repayments but timely repayments,” the FSC manager said.
As it relates to repayment of loans, Garrick disclosed that there is a repayment schedule and is encouraging farmers who are not aware to visit the FSC office at the Ministry of Agriculture building at Richmond Hill to obtain such information.
“Also for farmers who may have some difficulties for some reason or the other repaying, I would encourage you to come in, sit with us so that we can go ahead and get that repayment going, because, as I said before, without repayment the company is not going to revolve.”
The FSC manager further explained that once a farmer has repaid at least 60 per cent of their loan, they will be eligible to refinance that loan and get additional money to continue farming, whether they want to expand production or go into different commodities.
“The company’s revolving depends on you the farmer so let’s keep the communication line open with the management team at the Farmers Support Company so that we can assist you while you work with us in the meantime to get this company going and to make it sustainable for agriculture, for farmers and for St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a whole,” Garrick said.
To expedite the loan process, the FSC’s Credit Officers and Agriculture Extension Officers have been meeting with farmers in their districts, where loan applications are received and assessed.
Visits to evaluate and monitor the farms provide further information on the enterprises being financed.
FSC’s Credit Facility is capitalized to the tune of EC$6 million, received as a grant from PetroCaribe.
Loans are disbursed at an interest rate of 2 per cent.