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Managing Director of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Milverton Reynolds, has said that the Bank is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture for the growth and development of the agricultural industry.
Mr. Reynolds, who was speaking at the opening of ‘Opportunities Jamaica 07’ recently at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, said that: “We are collaborating with the Ministry and has provided funding for the restructuring of the Ministry of Agriculture, in particular the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP).”
The assistance, he said is “to improve growth in the sector by offering free technical services to small farmers and with the acquisition of land titles.” The most recent assistance is a US$4 million loan to export banana farmers to help in the replanting effort after Hurricane Dean.
“Over the recent past, the industry has suffered extensively due to Hurricanes Ivan in the year 2004, Dennis, Emily, Wilma and then Dean in August 2007, which has left a US$6.1 million rehabilitation bill,” Mr. Reynolds said.
He informed that the money will be disbursed through the Banana Export Company of Jamaica and “small banana farmers, accounting for 400 hectares, have been allocated US$500,000 to get back on their feet”.
Mr. Reynolds said that the DBJ is also activity promoting agriculture in the education system and in 2006, re-started the Adopt-a-School programme in 22 institutions across the island.
“These schools have agriculture as part of their curriculum and upon selection, received grant funding for items such as bio-digesters, bee boxes, chicken pickers, storage tanks, broilers and funds to provide repairs to greenhouses and slaughtering facilities,” he informed. “It is our view that in providing assistance and encouraging these young adults in best practices in the area of agriculture, we are setting the foundation for future agriculturists,” he stated, while pledging DBJ’s continued support in the process.