Farmers in St Kitts and Nevis are being encouraged to take advantage of the fund of EC$1.5 million available at the federation’s Development Bank.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture E Alistair Edwards made the comments on this week’s edition of Working for You.
He explained that the fund is part loan and part grant. The farmer must be registered at the Department of Agriculture to qualify.
The loans will be available to eligible applicants at the rate of 5% per annum.
“We have been encouraging farmers to register. We’ve made the registration fees almost like a pittance,” he said.
“Nobody pays more than 500 and that’s for over 15 acres of land that you are allowed to use. We want them to understand the importance of registering and having a relationship with the agriculture department.”
Edwards added that the department needs to know how many farmers are operating in the federation and the types of crops they produce.
“You are talking about import and export; we talk about the World Trade Organization (WTO) and banning things and restricting the market. They are the same people who are crying out like that,” he said.
“They don’t want to register with the department, but the only way we can protect them is through numbers,” said Mr. Edwards.
Proper book keeping is part of the thrust to have farmers register, the government’s information service said in a press release.
And the permanent secretary ensured that registering is not a ploy to induce taxation.
“The first thing to come to their mind is that they want the information to tax,” he said.
“We are not taxing farmers now. We want to incentivise them to produce.
“The $1.5 million is trying to aim at another challenge in agriculture. So, this is what we are doing now to relieve that.”