Dominica: The inauguration of an initiative that aims to increase agricultural investment by recognising women farmers’ contributions to agrarian growth in Dominica was hosted this week.
The “Agriwomen Chq N Gro” Pilot Microfinance Program was officially introduced this week at a ceremony held at the Prevost Cinemall Conference Room.
The prototype facility, which should go into operation very soon, will help women from the parishes of Saint Paul, St. Patrick, and St. David who are between 18 and 65 years.
The National Development Foundation of Dominica, as well as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), are working together to organise the initiative, which the Ministry of Agriculture is running, Fisheries, Blue and Green (NDFD).
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy Ministry, Dr Kyra Paul, gave the keynote address at the ceremony. “The ministry applauds and supports the facility’s goals to strengthen agriculture investment by recognising the participation of women farmers in contribution and their leadership in agriculture development in Dominica, and views the establishment of the microfinance mechanism as a very positive development,” she said.
“We have a chance to boost production, and the farmers who are gaining from this project have a chance to do the same or add value to their produce,” she stated.
Dr Paul continued, “While we embrace an integrated and included strategy, we look forward to the operationalization of the facility, which is essential to us.”
She added that the facility is crucial to achieving other international development goals like gender equality, food security, economic growth, and livelihood.
According to her, the ministry is still committed to supporting families in various programmes.
Dr Paul urged private sector organisations to collaborate and boost funding for beneficial agricultural and farming-related projects.
Reduced vulnerability of small farmers and women’s organisations is the project’s ultimate goal, according to Sawana Fabien, national coordinator for the UNDP Guyana-Dominica Project. “We have done so impressively with the partnership we’ve experienced on this project,” she added.
She said, “I am aware that the project is a mechanism to assist the Dominican government in achieving the SDGs and acknowledge that the support, direction, and leadership from the stakeholders have been instrumental in enabling the successes of projects and the other initiatives of the UNDP office in Dominica.
She said this project is only one illustration of the ongoing support Dominica and the region have received from the Government of Japan.
Fabien expects that the execution of those initiatives, along with many others that will follow, would significantly aid the government’s efforts to make Dominica the first climate-resilient country in the world.
George Challenger, the NDFD’s officer for business and entrepreneurial development, said that the gender-based climate brilliant loan product, AgriWomen Chq N Gro, was principally created for the Commonwealth of Dominica and is managed by the NDFD.
He claimed that the loan amounts range from $1,000 to $10,000.
He said, “At the beginning of the project, we had roughly $30,000, but we couldn’t go with $30,000 because we had to restrict people who would be able to access the funding.
Challenger also stated the 2.5 percent interest rate on loans, which lowers the debt.
He pointed out that “every other facility we have at the NDFD is considerably higher than that.” We have 22% for personal usage and 8% for small companies. This loan has no requirement for collateral.
He said you need a cash deposit, land paper, or other requirements that are part of the loan facility.
The production activities, according to Challenger, will involve crops, livestock, agro-processing, manufacture of local crafts and primary raw materials, and technology-focused activities to increase productivity and profitability.
According to him, the terms and payback alternatives include 12 to 60 months for capital and operational expenses, biweekly, fortnightly, and monthly instalments, grace conditions, consideration for a moratorium in specific circumstances, and refinancing and rescheduling options.
Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security of Dominica, earlier, informed the changing of the guards for the ministry has officially taken place on December 20.
Roland Royer replaced former Minister Fidel Grant as the new minister for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Blue and Green Economy.
Royer started his professional career in the Ministry as Field Assistant with the North Agricultural Region, then moved up the ranks to Extension Officer, Team Leader, Support to Horticulture National Coordinator and now officially our Minster.
Jullan Defoe, former Fisheries Officer and Director, now serves as Minster in State for the Fisheries replacing Hon Gregory Riviere.
Lackeyia Joseph, former intern at the Ministry with Chinese Technical Mission/One Mile Portsmouth is now responsible for Agro-Processors and the agro-processing sector, herself being from a farming community and with a full-fledged agro-processing business, according to post by the Ministry.
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