JIS News

A total of 1,341 small citrus farmers have so far registered for financial assistance under the Ministry of Agriculture’s $10 million Special Assistance Programme (SAP). The programme was launched in April of this year to help farmers to access loans and materials to resuscitate their farms.
Coordinator of the Citrus Replanting Project, Dr. Florence Young, told JIS News that prior to the assistance programme, the farmers had difficulties accessing loans for replanting, as they were unable to provide the required collateral.
“The Ministry therefore decided to offer some assistance to those farmers, who are really keen and willing to participate in the replanting exercise or who have tried to do some of the replanting but are doing it at a very slow pace,” she explained. Dr. Young further explained that, “a major criteria for being considered is that the farmer (should have) no more than one hectare (2.5 acres) of citrus”. In addition to loan amounts, qualified small farmers under SAP will also benefit from planting materials, seedlings, fertilizer and coupons, which are redeemable at registered nurseries and designated farm stores.
The deadline for farmers to register for assistance was August 31, however those who have not yet signed up, are being encouraged to do so through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) offices island wide.
“Citrus farmers were being asked to register and this is a national exercise that is going on. We are utilizing that system to create a list of citrus farmers,” the Project Coordinator said, explaining that the information would assist in the overall management of the programme.