|Taiwan assists banana farmers|
|Thursday, September 14, 2017|
Project Manager for the Banana Productivity Improvement Project, Kerde Severin, is lauding the assistance of the Republic of China (Taiwan) with Saint Lucia’s banana improvement projects.
Mr Severin said the Taiwanese have provided much-needed technical assistance and materials.
“The Taiwanese have been involved with this project from the onset of the Black Sigatoka Disease,” he said. “They have contributed technical assistance in terms of the control of the disease, and they have set up plots in Roseau to assess the different varieties, and determine which are more likely to be resistant to Black Sigatoka Disease. They have also contributed financially in terms of the purchase of fungicides and oils, and they continue to support the program in a number of ways.”
The Taiwanese government has also pledged substantial funding that will be allocated to land development and training.
Mr Severin explained: “They have agreed to contribute a US$700,000 every year for the next four years, a total of US$2.8 million. That is the contribution they are making to this program, and these funds will go toward drainage, land development, and training support, because training is key, especially for the staff.”
The funds will also be allocated toward the establishment of a credit facility at the National Farmers Credit Union.
“More critically, one of the things we have planned under this program, is to set up a revolving fund for farmers. We need a sustainable mechanism in place to ensure that after the four years of the program, once government pulls their support, farmers will be able to continue to obtain all the necessary inputs that are critical to produce bananas. So some of the funding will go toward helping set up a credit facility that can be used as a revolving fund. Farmers borrow money which they will use to set up irrigation and drainage systems, build sheds, and for general farming operations. That money will be placed at the National Farmers Credit Union.
“This is a very good program. So the Taiwanese have assisted us in a very significant way.”
Mr. Severin said the loans will be made available at very low interest rates in order to facilitate farming operations.