AIDB chairman Martin Charles, left, AIDB Manager Corbette and Finacial Secretary Rosmond Edwards at the signing ceremony
AIDB chairman Martin Charles, left, AIDB Manager Corbette and Finacial Secretary Rosmond Edwards at the signing ceremony

Farmers and hoteliers can now request special loans from the Agricultural Industrial Development (AID) Bank.

The government has allocated $25 million for agriculture and tourism in the 2016/2017 National Budget; $10 million goes to agriculture and $15 million to tourism.

The agreement was signed between the Chairman of the AID Bank and the Financial Secretary at a ceremony at the Ministry of Finance Conference Room on August 9.

The funds for the loan facilities were made available through the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

"The Government of Dominica and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries recognize the four factors of production required by farmers for success in the agricultural sector; they are land, labour, knowledge and capital," Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Johnson Drigo said.

Drigo said access to capital was recognized as one of the most limiting factors for progressive agricultural production and securing income for the farm family.

He added his ministry receives requests from farmers for financial support on a daily basis.

"The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have listened; being a farmer himself he understands the daily rigors of farm life, as such the Government of Dominica is responding to these needs for support in a more tangible and strategic manner," said Drigo.

Likewise, Minister for Tourism and Urban Renewal Robert Tonge said that the new facility is important to the tourism sector.

"The government has listened to the request of the private sector and we recognized that such an intervention is required and timely," he said.

However, Tonge noted that increasing arrivals and enhancing visitor experience must not be seen solely as the goals of government.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said that the two investments made by the government will improve job creation.

He said about 17 properties will benefit from the loan facility.

"The terms and conditions of these loans are exceptional; there is nowhere in the world, the Caribbean included, where a lender would ask the borrower what terms do you want," said Skerrit.

He said he hopes the money invested in these two sectors will be used wisely and for the intended purposes.
Skerrit advised farmers to diversify with short, medium and long term crops.

"There is a huge market for crops but the challenge farmers have is working capital because you have to invest and wait for three months, wait for six months, wait for seven months, wait for a year to start selling and making your money," said Skerrit.