FARM­ERS’ AS­SIS­TANCE PRO­GRAMME

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The ti­tle spon­sor of the Ro­tary char­ity golf tour­na­ment in Novem­ber, Pan Amer­i­can Life In­sur­ance of the Eastern Caribbean, is pleased to be as­so­ci­ated with Ro­tary’s Farm­ers’ As­sis­tance Pro­gramme Project.

The Farm­ers’ As­sis­tance Pro­gramme was con­cep­tu­al­ized by Ro­tar­ian and Found­ing Pres­i­dent Lisle Chase fol­low­ing the 2013 Christ­mas Eve trough which af­fected St. Lu­cia.

On July 15th 2014, ten small farm­ers who were af­fected by the rav­ages of the weather sys­tem re­ceived fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance in the form of soft loans from the Ro­tary Club of Gros Islet. The farm­ers who qual­i­fied for as­sis­tance un­der the pro­gramme were all small farm­ers from the north of the is­land.

Each of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries re­ceived a zero per­cent in­ter­est rate soft loan re­payable over eigh­teen months or as the Ro­tary Club of Gros Islet may see fit depend­ing on the cir­cum­stance of the farm­ers. The aim is for the farm­ers to re­pay dur­ing har­vest.

Funds were used for farm re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in­clud­ing: • Pur­chase of in­puts • Farm ir­ri­ga­tion • Farm im­prove­ments • Pay­ment of wages to farm em­ploy­ees • Or any other farm re­lated pur­pose ap­proved by the Ro­tary Club of Gros Islet.

Each farmer pro­vided a plan for the use of the funds. Some did so with the as­sis­tance of the Agri­cul­tural Ex­ten­sion of­fice. The Ex­ten­sion of­fice pro­vided in­valu­able as­sis­tance to the Farm­ers’ As­sis­tance Pro­gramme Com­mit­tee in se­lect­ing and li­ais­ing with the ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

The Ro­tary Club of Gros Islet con­tin­ues to work with the Agri­cul­tural Ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers dur­ing this stage to en­sure that the farm­ers em­ploy best prac­tices and max­i­mize the benefits from the as­sis­tance re­ceived. To date the club is gen­er­ally sat­is­fied with the progress made by most of the farm­ers.

A grace pe­riod of six months was granted to the farm­ers to fa­cil­i­tate re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and im­prove their in­come gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity. Though farm­ers will not be pres­sured to pay back, the com­mence­ment and fol­low-up on pay­ments will be im­por­tant for the sus­tain­abil­ity of the pro­gramme which the club plans to ex­tend to other farm­ers in phase two of the project fol­low­ing an eval­u­a­tion of phase one.

A Ro­tar­ian with one of the

farm­ers.

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