Mon | Oct 26, 2020

New Zealand High Commission injects $2m in farming communities

Published:Friday | September 25, 2020 | 12:09 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Two of the water tanks purchased for some farmers in Manchester and St Elizabeth through the New Zealand High Commission Fund.
Two of the water tanks purchased for some farmers in Manchester and St Elizabeth through the New Zealand High Commission Fund.

Forty-three farmers from the parishes of St Elizabeth and Manchester now have much-needed farming equipment and supplies to counter the losses they experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grants, totalling just over $2.2 million, were made possible through the New Zealand High Commission Fund, which modified its approach to supporting small-scale, short-term community projects that contribute to sustainable development in developing countries.

“... Farmers have been significantly affected as one of their main markets was to provide supplies to the hotels, and the tourism sector came to a grinding halt,” said Local Development Fund coordinator Dr Bridgette Barrett.

She said loss of produce due to the closure of markets; educational, tourism and entertainment facilities; drastic reduction in prices, which resulted in an overall loss; and an increased cost to store and maintain produce and livestock were some of the mitigating factors that threatened the beneficiaries’ livelihood.

“We gave 41 grants valued at $44,500 (each) and two grants at $78,000. A majority of the farmers purchased seeds and fertilizers with the grant received. The grant was also used for drip irrigation systems, water tanks/drums, land maintenance and lease, and livestock” Barrett expressed

One beneficiary, Dorrel Brown, said she is expecting a worthwhile return on the investment she made with her grant.

“It helped me to get some seeds and prepare land and I purchased 1,000 dasheen suckers, and when it comes to harvesting, each sucker will give three pounds, totalling 3,000lbs and the rate now is $100 per pound, so I am expecting a good profit, push me far ahead.”

Farmer and recipient Kemar Brown said his purchases will significantly improve his business.

“…I purchased a hose and seeds and I have planted the seeds, waiting to see the outcome and the profit. I really appreciate it; it has given me a nice push towards the farm.”

Since June 2012, 13 communities in seven parishes have benefited from this fund.