Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 07, 2018 (SKNIS): Farmers and fishers in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis are singing the praises of the Government of National Unity for its Agriculture Support Fund that has made available $1.5 million in loan funds at a five percent interest rate and $1 million in grant funds through the Development Bank.

The $1 million in grant funding was given out to 230 beneficiaries yesterday (December 06) during a special ceremony at the Agriculture Conference Room.

The St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service (SKNIS) caught up with several of the beneficiaries of the grant funds.

Jason Moses, a fisher whose landing site is in Dieppe Bay, St. Kitts said that the grant will aid in getting back his fish traps. He had lost about 38 during the passage of Hurricanes Maria and Irma. “I also lost buoys and a lot of rope,” he said adding, “It affected me a lot because I invested a lot of money into it.”

Moses, who specializes in catching lobster, added “A lot of my customers were calling me [after the hurricanes] and I couldn’t meet the demand. I got a fresh start, so it [the grant funding] will put me back on track. I want to thank the Government because they have been very good in assisting us. I am very grateful and thankful. They are doing a good job.”

Junior Browne of Cotton Ground, Nevis stated that he will use the grant to enhance his farm by purchasing equipment such as weed wackers. He said that he is thankful for the grant.

“I feel good, I’m not going to tell a lie. My farm needs a lot of things. I give thanks because it has gotten better for me. I want to tell the Government thanks. It doesn’t get better than this. Something is better than nothing,” he said.

Natasha Daniel of Cayon, St. Kitts, said that the grant will come in handy for buying materials for her farm. She added that she is grateful for the grant.

“Many thanks to the government. I appreciate the assistance,” she said. “Agriculture is the backbone of any economy. We have to move forward at looking at agriculture as a business opportunity, not as a mediocre work that only slaves used to do. We have the potential for agriculture to boom and we need that proper investment.”

Glemdeen Luke of Church Ground, Nevis stated that his farm was damaged during the passage of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, as it is located at New River. He stated that he will use the grant to buy material to safeguard his farm from the sea blast that occurs during inclement weather. He stated that he is pleased about the grant and thankful for the government that supplied it.

To qualify for the grant, persons had to be registered fishers or farmers with the Department of Agriculture and active during the 2017 passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Everyone who applied was approved once they fit the criteria.

The grant committee included representatives from the Agriculture Department and agriculture industry, Constituency Empowerment, the Ministry of Finance and the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The maximum grant amount that was given to each of the 230 beneficiaries was $7,000 and the minimum was $2,500.

The Agriculture Support Fund was launched alongside the Government Employee Mortgage (GEMS) Programme on June 1st, 2018.