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A farmer removes cocoa beans from their pods on the Belmont Estate in Grenada (Photo: Belmont Estate)

Help coming for Grenada’s agriculture sector

A farmer removes cocoa beans from their pods on the Belmont Estate in Grenada (Photo: Belmont Estate)

Grenada’s Minister of Agriculture and Land Yolande Bain Horsford yesterday, June 3, announced a raft of measures to help the agricultural sector cope with “challenges brought on by COVID-19”.

In a statement to the country, Bain Horsford noted, “Having done a preliminary assessment, the Government committed EC$5 million as part of the Stimulus Package for the Agricultural Sector. However, to date, the Cabinet approved over EC$6 million as a direct response to the impact of Covid-19 on the sector.”

Grenada’s Minister of Agriculture and Land Yolande Bains Horsford (Photo: NOW Grenada)

She acknowledged that farmers faced challenges with selling their produce after the Government of Grenada declared a State of Emergency (SOE) beginning in March. However, she appealed for them to understand the prioritisation of citizens’ health and safety over economic gain.

Bain Horsford noted, too, that the impact of COVID-19 on Grenada’s tourism ministry had also affected the farmers

Significantly, in April the Grenada Cocoa Association (GCA) and the Grenada Nutmeg Cooperative Association (GNCA) wrote to the Government complaining of restricted access to sell their produce during the SOE.

(Photo: Now Grenada)

Since then, Dr Keith Mitchlell-led Administration has approved a price support payment for nutmeg farmers as part of its COVID-19 relief measures.

As such, the agriculture minister indicated that the Government plans to increase its support to the sector “as the Cabinet considers a proposal from the GCA for financial support.

“Having done a preliminary assessment, the Government committed EC$5 million as part of the Stimulus Package for the Agricultural Sector. However, to date, the Cabinet approved over EC$6 million as a direct response to the impact of Covid-19 on the sector.”

— Yolande Bains Horsford, Minister of Agriculture and Land, Grenada

Together, the GCA and GCNA requested financial assistance from the Government totalling EC$4 million. The organisations said then that the fund was to support the operational expenses of their members, some of whom lost produce during the SOE.

“As we listen to the cries of our nutmeg and cocoa farmers as export markets disappeared before their very eyes, and the associations’ inability to purchase farmers’ produce… the Cabinet approved EC$3 million support package for the GCNA to [be] divided into EC$1-million grant and EC$2-million loan,” Bain Horsford stated.

The impact of COVID-19 on Grenada’s tourism sector also affected farmers. (File photo)

Though reiterating that the Government is in the process of approving a package for the GCA, she emphasised, “It is very instructive to note that government has already exceeded the initial sum committed to at the time when the stimulus package was disclosed to this nation.”

As part of the Stimulus Package for the Agricultural Sector, the Government of Grenada will also launch the Food Security Mitigation and Response Plan. The plan was designed, in collaboration with the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB), to help farmers market their produce.

So far, the Grenada Government has committed over EC$1 million to the initiative, including for MNIB to address the challenges of marketing, distribution and storage of agricultural produce.