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Greenhouse loans for farmers

Greenhouse loans for farmers

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Farmers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are being offered almost EC $1 million in assistance to build greenhouses that will allow them to grow new crops year round, achieve increased yields and advance the country’s diversification programme.{{more}}

The initiative is being funded by the National Development Fund and the International Cooperation and Development Fund (Taiwan), and provides subsidised loans to purchase and erect the structures.

Members of the newly formed Rabacca Farms Fruits and Vegetable Organisation were informed of the programme last Thursday, August 27, by Chief of the Taiwanese Technical Mission, Chin-yu Lee, when he explained the benefits of using a greenhouse.

Farmers were also given details of what the facilities cost, the various sizes available and the range of crops that can be grown within them.

Lee stressed the importance of greenhouses to the production of better crops by protecting them from pests, diseases and the ever-changing weather patterns. He maintained that there is more money to be made in agriculture, since many plant varieties have the potential to bear year round.

The weather will not adversely affect crops grown under greenhouse conditions as it does plants grown in exposed gardens.

Lee identified sweet pepper, sweet corn, cucumber, cabbage and tomato as ideal for growing in greenhouses.

The presentation also demonstrated how the greenhouses are erected and how they can be strengthened to withstand heavy rains and strong winds. Additionally, Lee told farmers how the technical mission could assist farmers with accounting and recording payments made and received.

Each greenhouse will cost between EC$8,300 and EC$14,000, including shipping, depending on size and extra features. The initiative proposes to lend farmers the full cost, with a six-month grace period before repayments begin. However, in that time they are expected to service the five per cent interest.

Lee confirmed that the ICDF would be investing US$300,000 towards the joint programme.

Vice Chairman of the Rabacca farmers’ association, Lenford Sampson, lauded the initiative, explaining that it has the potential to facilitate diversification within the agro-sector. He noted that the loan scheme would be particularly useful to farmers who want to develop their business but who do not have the finance.

“Farmers in this country have been suffering for too long,” he said.

Sampson expressed “deep gratitude” to staff at the Taiwanese Technical Mission for their constant assistance since the organisation was formed six months ago

“They go out of their way to help us,” he said, while encouraging other farmers in the North Windward area to join the group.

“Farmers are getting together for the common good,” Sampson added.

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