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WASHINGTON — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors on Thursday approved two important projects totalling US$19 million for the Eastern Caribbean countries of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), and Grenada.

The US$10.7 million Human Development Service Delivery Project will support improved quality of primary and secondary education, a more efficient social protection system and improved access to skills training in SVG.

The OECS Regional Agriculture Competitiveness Project (US$8.3 million) aims to increase market access and sales for farmers, fishers and agro-processors in both SVG, and Grenada.

The two projects will address key constraints in human development and agriculture sectors. SVG has made significant human development progress yet poverty and unemployment remain high. Nearly one in two young adults are unemployed, and about 30 per cent of the population lives in poverty.

Approximately 26 per cent of the labour force in SVG and 11 per cent in Grenada is in the agriculture sector, with rural population highly dependent on agriculture for incomes, employment and food security. However, many agribusiness entrepreneurs lack the skills and inputs required to scale up.

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“The two projects approved today aim at boosting economic opportunities in the Eastern Caribbean by improving education and social protection services for young people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and creating new opportunities for farmers and fishers in both Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines by linking them to larger markets for their products,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank country director for the Caribbean.

“To tackle these issues effectively particularly in small economies, it’s important to think both locally and regionally”.

The Human Development Service Delivery Project will increase access to skills training to 1,500 poor and unemployed persons in Saint Vincent, as well as provide training for new principals and teachers, implement the new performance appraisal system, and improve the Technical Vocational Education and Training system. The project will also establish a new social protection beneficiary registry, roll out a new targeting and payment system and support data collection and analysis for the first poverty assessment in ten years.

The objective of the OECS Regional Agriculture Competitiveness Project is to improve linkages between the demand and supply of smallholder produce. Specifically, it will support the development of agro-business proposals and finance the implementation of business plans in areas such as modernizing farm equipment. The project also aims to train about 140 public agricultural extension officers, improve storage facilities, increase marketing and financial literacy, and mobilize US$1 million in private capital for agribusiness in St. Vincent and Grenada.

The agriculture project is financed by a US$4.3 million International Development Association (IDA) credit for SVG, a US$2.2 million IDA credit and an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan of US$1.8 million for Grenada. The human development project is financed by an IDA credit of US$10.7 million. The IDA credits have a final maturity of 40 years including a grace period of 10 years and the IBRD loan has a maturity of 30 years, including a grace period of 9.5 years.