Banana Farmers to Benefit from US$4 Million Loan


Government will be providing a US$4 million loan to banana farmers, to assist in the recovery of farms, which were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Dean.The loan, which will be provided by the Development Bank of Jamaica, will be made available through the Banana Export Company (BECO).
Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, who made the disclosure during a statement to the House of Representatives on (Nov. 27), said that Government will also assume the cost of the insurance coverage for BECO farmers.
Some 1,047 banana producers, including the two major banana estates, which account for 90 per cent of banana exports, sustained losses of 2,558 hectares of bananas after the passage of Hurricane Dean on August 19.
Dr. Tufton explained that in the aftermath of the Hurricane, BECO, the sole export agency responsible for banana exports to the European Union (EU), presented to the Government, a resuscitation plan for the sector.
The company proposed that US$4 million be on-lent to 220 export growers over a six-year period with a moratorium on the principal for one year.
In addition, Dr. Tufton informed that the Ministry, in response to the hurricane, sought and obtained approval from the EU for the immediate release of some Euro $2,188,109 for the provision of agricultural inputs to be distributed through the Banana Trading Company.
“This arrangement significantly reduces the bureaucratic process that would otherwise be necessary in order to release these supplies,” Dr. Tufton said. He added that funding of $60.3 million to undertake road rehabilitation, procurement of drainage equipment and a public education programme, is available under the current programme of the European Union Banana Support Programme.
“Another $45 million, which represents undistributed balances of inputs under the Hurricane Dennis, Emily and Ivan programmes, will also become available to banana farmers in response to Dean,” Dr. Tufton stated.The Government has also made available, $323 million to restore export banana production. This is in addition to the $10 million in the fertilizer support already distributed to the industry.

JIS Social