Sat | Nov 27, 2021

COK offers Trelawny farmers J$1.5m unsecured loans

Published:Friday | August 13, 2021 | 12:05 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer
Fulton
Fulton

WESTERN BUREAU:

FARMERS IN Trelawny, who recently leased former sugar lands from the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association (AIJCFA), have got a much-needed boost as COK Solidarity Co-operative Credit Union Limited (COK) is offering them a J$1.5 million loan to assist with their projects.

The offer was made by Claude Sawyers, the microloans unit manager at COK, during a recent meeting with the farmers at the AIJCFA’s office in Clarks Town, which was the hub for sugar production in the parish.

“This loan offer is in our unsecured loan portfolio,” explained Sawyers. “We believe that farmers may be poor, but they should not remain poor. The intention is for you to launch into broader territories within your field.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which played a pivotal role in the lands being leased to the farmers, wants them to buy into the concept of ‘grow what we eat, and eat what we grow,’ which COK endorses and wants to support through its loans to the farmer.

“We believe in what the Government is promoting. From our experience, there is a ready market in the United Kingdom for our sweet potato, especially the uplifter brand,” said Sawyers. “Foreign exchange can be earned not just for you, but the country on the whole.”

The move by COK was welcomed by Lenworth Fulton, the president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), who described it as a noble gesture in the effort to reposition the local agricultural sector as a viable entity.

“This is a step in the right direction. I hope that over time, this may be increased to $20 million,” stated Fulton. “Finance is a major problem for farmers, so this is good news for farmers.”

According to Nigel Myrie, the secretary/manager of AIJCFA, this initiative with the farmers was the result of diligent negotiations between the two entities.

AFFORDABLE FINANCING

“We have long sought to find affordable financing for our farmers, so now that we have this arrangement with COK, I am encouraging the farmers to make good use of the funds. They should use it wisely, as this presents an opportunity to move towards economic stability from their labour,” said Myrie.

In explaining the blueprint that was develop for their negotiation with COK, Myrie said they were quite meticulous in ensuring that the plan was sound enough to create the right impression.

“We have a template business plan and can advise farmers on how they can alter their product line to make the best economic use of the land they occupy,” said Myrie.