26 Young Farmers Benefit from Over $2M in Agriculture Grant Funding
Earlier today, the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Senator the Honourable Kazim Hosein distributed a total of twenty-six (26) grants to young farmers valued at over two million ($2Mn) as part of the first cohort of the Youth ‘Fast Track’ Agricultural Finance Support Programme (Agro-Incentive).
The Ceremony, which took place at the Ministry’s Head Office in Chaguanas, saw the disbursement of grants to persons aged 18-35, up to the maximum value of $100,000. In attendance were; Minister of Youth Development and National Service (MYDNS) the Honourable Foster Cummings; Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Senator the Honourable Avinash Singh; Permanent Secretary (Ag.) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Ms. Coomarie Goolabsingh as well as members of the Grant Assessment Committee.
By emphasising the importance of the agriculture sector in the region and more so, CARICOM’s mandate to reduce the Regional Import Bill by 25% by the year 2025, Minister Hosein opined that there was an increasing need to achieve food security and create viable avenues for sustainable increase in our local production. He further noted that in the latter part of 2021, Government agreed to the operationalisation of the Youth ‘Fast Track’ Agro-Incentive, having recognised both the ageing farming population and the increased number of requests for grant support by young persons across our country.
Minister Kazim Hosein stated, “By supporting young, upcoming farmers, the agriculture sector would benefit from innovative approaches and ideas. Additionally, it would provide Government support to our youth with aspirations of entering the agriculture field which in turn, would bear fruit for our country in the form of the increased productive capacity and marketability of local products in both regional and international markets.”
Attributing the programme’s assessment delays to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minister was keen to note that nothing happens without reason and before its appointed time. In so doing he also lauded the work of the Assessment Committee whose recommendations he opined, would ensure that the Youth ‘Fast Track’ Agro-Incentive evolves and “grows from strength to strength”.
Also speaking at the event was Minister Foster Cummings who said that if nothing else, the sheer quantum and value of grants disbursed at the ceremony today, was enough to dispel the misguided notion that young persons were not interested in agriculture nor that the Government was not genuinely committed to the cause.
In her welcome remarks, Permanent Secretary (Ag.) Goolabsingh said that the Youth ‘Fast Track’ Agro-Incentive was specifically implemented to alleviate the inordinate delays experienced by young food producers in accessing grants, incentives and subsidies offered by the Ministry of Agriculture and was designed to assist farmers in need with a particular kind of intervention – not previously catered for amongst the Ministry’s traditional agricultural incentives – that would lend itself to increased production, sustainability, resilience to climate change and the overall enhancement of health and safety conditions.
In closing, Senator the Honourable Kazim Hosein reaffirmed his commitment saying that as the first servant in the Ministry, he remains committed to working with all our agriculture stakeholders to bridge the gap that currently exist and to make agriculture a viable option for the younger generations.