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Republic Bank to offer $20B credit for regional agri development

Source: Stabroek News

Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali told Regional Heads of Government yesterday that Trinidad-based Republic Bank, through the CARICOM Sustainability Agriculture Credit Facility will be offering up to $20 billion (US$100 million) in financing for the development of the agriculture sector.

CARICOM LEADERS: front row (l-r): Irfaan Ali, President, Guyana; Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister, Dominica; Chandrikapersad Santokhi, President, Suriname; Chairman, Prime Minister John Antonio Briceño, Belize; Secretary-General, CARICOM, Dr Carla Barnett; Dr Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister, Grenada; Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Barbados; Phillip Davis, Prime Minister, The Bahamas Back row (l-r): Kamina Johnson-Smith, Foreign Minister, Jamaica; Alva Baptiste, Foreign Minister, Saint Lucia; Natalio Wheatley, Deputy Premier, British Virgin Islands; Charles Washington Misick, Premier, Turks and Caicos Islands; Joseph E. Farrell, Premier, Montserrat, .E. Ariel Henry, Acting President and Prime Minister, Haiti; Senator Dr Amery Browne, Foreign Minister, Trinidad and Tobago; Montgomery Daniel, Deputy Prime Minister, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (CARICOM photo)

​​Ali made the statement while presenting the report of the Special Ministerial Taskforce on Agriculture, Agricultural Diversification and Food Security to the 33rd Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, currently being held in Belize. Guyana is chair of the special task force.

“The Lead Head for Agriculture reported that there has been concrete progress in access to financing for agriculture investment, financing through a facility called the CARICOM Sustainability Agriculture Credit Facility (the “Credit Facility”), using Republic Bank Limited as a lender. This is a special facility designed for agriculture activities including, but not limited to, development of priority crops, capital equipment for farming, feeder roads to provide access to arable lands, bulk storage for crops, processing plants, shade house farming. This provides funding for up to five years for repaying up to G$2b to Guyana and US$100m to all CARICOM member states, with interest rates as low as 2.5%,” a statement from the Office of the President related.

The President’s proposal is part of a slew of measures aimed at cutting CARICOM’s food import bill by 25% by 2025. He told the region’s heads that the task force has developed investment projects in poultry, corn and soya, and mutton. In the area of de-risking the agriculture sector, the Office of the President reported that Ali indicated that a proposal was received from Grace Kennedy Insurance Company Limited Jamaica and the first phase of implementation has commenced.

The task force has also commenced exploring public-private partnership models for transportation and logistics. Ali also presented detailed reports of each CARICOM country’s current and target commodities to achieve the 25% reduction by 2025, outlining both constraints and actions needed. The Guyanese leader, according to the statement, highlighted that coffee, cocoa, coconut, spices, industrial hemp and palm oil are high-value imports into CARICOM. He noted that these products have the potential for development in the region.

“Production is expected to increase between 25% to 700% to be able to significantly reduce food imports by 2025. To achieve this, national expenditure on agriculture must be increased. On average CARICOM member states expended an estimated 2.1% of national expenditure on agriculture,” the statement read.

President Ali called on his CARICOM counterparts to significantly increase their agriculture spending to about 5% of their national budget while committing to expending 10% of Guyana’s national budget to agriculture by 2025.

Ali also raised the issue of easy movement of cargo and addressing transportation challenges as means of furthering the 2025 target.

The Office of the President said that the heads pledged their full commitment to the plan as presented by Ali. The 33rd Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM is expected to conclude today.

Source: Stabroek News

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