KINGSTOWN, SVG (BreadFruit News) – The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is seeking to provide additional support to farmers, to cushion the impact of the drought situation and the COVID-19 pandemic. Steps have been taken to design several programmes to provide a stimulus to farmers during this period.
The latest direct income support offer is part of a larger Farmer’s income support initiative which include the purchase of produce from farmers for the ‘Love Box’ programme and a 50% reduction in the price of fertiliser.
Speaking recently, South Central Windward MP Hon Saboto Caesar said:
“Nothing will stop one of the largest pay-outs to farmers where in the matters of days, between 4000 – 5000 farmers will each receive $500 as a first payment to help cope with some of the income shortfalls”.
However, Civil servants and teachers who are also farmers will be excluded from the cash assistance that the government will give to farmers.
Prime Minister Gonsalves earlier said that he will accept any criticism for the decision to leave off civil servants from the list. He indicated that if civil servant farmers are going to criticise the decision, they should criticise him and not the Ministry of Agriculture.
“I asked them to, in this payment, leave their names off for me. You know, I love the civil servants, I love the teachers, but I think we have to — there are too many of them but I just — I don’t want you inside the village where you get the money and farmer says, ‘Look, John, Mary, they got a monthly salary … we catching our neck, and they get too.’
Minister Caesar is expected to address farmers this week to outline the details and process for receipt of the payment. Prime Minister Gonsalves in his weekly update to the nation last week said that the Ministry is currently sanitising the list to ensure that only those who are meant to receive the payment benefit from the programme. He said, “they are sanitising it, double checking it because some people had turned up and registered without having their farmer’s card and some don’t have farmer’s card”.
Drought 2020, has been recorded as one of the worst droughts experienced in this country in the last fifty (50) years, impacting on both crop and livestock farmers. An assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture, on the impact of Drought 2020 on the agriculture sector, places damage and loss at EC$16,000,000.00.