JIS News

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has assisted more than 20 agro-investors to secure loans, valued at approximately $78.7 million, to start their businesses since March.
Following the successful staging of its Agro Invest Expo, the Ministry received over 800 expressions of interest from potential investors in the sector. Director of Agricultural Support Services (ASSP), Hershell Brown, said that the Ministry shortlisted 300 of these potential investors for development assistance.
“We actually provide a hand holding exercise, where the potential farmer is introduced to areas that can provide good returns and have defined markets,” he stated.
Among the areas into which investors are being directed is apiculture, sheep rearing, pig farming and greenhouse production. Mr. Brown said the Ministry assists the potential investors in identifying markets, as well as developing business plans.
“Along with the business plan, we seek to identify exactly what each financial institution requires, that is, in terms of collateral and others. So that when the business plan gets to the financial institution, it is actually ready for approval,” he disclosed.
Mr. Brown said that, in addition to the 20 investors who have received their loans, another 20 business plans will soon be ready for evaluation for loans by financial institutions.
Approximately 500 applicants, who were not shortlisted because they had no collateral, have not been forgotten, he said.
“We are seeking to identify creative sources of funding that would allow them to access money without the traditional collateral requirements,” he explained.
Earlier this year, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Dr. Christopher Tufton, stated that the Ministry would be focussing on encouraging an investment approach to agriculture, which would entail application of the fundamental principles of business. As part of this thrust, the Ministry established the Agro-Invest Corporation.

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