Development Bank responds to call to provide credit to Nevis farmers

Development Bank’s Credit Analyst II, Ms Avelyn Browne (centre) discussing with some of the clients at the Funding for Agricultural Enterprises forum.

CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS (June 4, 2013) — The Department of Agriculture on Nevis has a strategic partner in the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, as it continues to encourage more persons to take to farming as a business.

Director of Agriculture on Nevis, Mr Keithley Amory, said on Friday May 31 that he was encouraged by the Development Bank’s offer of interest free loans to farmers and called it “a good partnership when agriculture and the funding institutions work hand in hand.”

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Mr Amory made the remarks at the Charlestown’s D. R. Walwyn Square, where the Department of Agriculture held a forum ‘Funding for Agricultural Enterprises’ under white tents outside the Cotton House, with three financial institutions, Development Bank, Bank of Nevis, and the FND Credit Union taking part.

“We are celebrating one month of activities to promote agriculture, and this activity that we are having here is a forum that is dubbed ‘Funding for Agricultural Enterprises’ in which we are partnering with the banking institutions to explain to farmers, fishers, livestock owners what funding is available from their institutions,” said Mr Amory.

He said that they had invited all the banking institutions on Nevis, but some of them said that they did not have farming portfolios. The idea behind it was to have farmers and persons interested in agriculture to be able to source funding for the improvement of their agricultural activities.

Posters at the Development Bank stand, which was manned by Credit Analyst II Ms Avelyn Browne, informed visitors that the bank was offering agricultural loans at zero percent which became a great attraction to the stand.

Mr Keithley Amory (right) with Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Patricia Bartlette (2nd right), talking to two Nevisians who are interested in agriculture at Funding for Agricultural Enterprises forum.

“I think it is very good, because at zero percent interest it means that you only have the principal to deal with,” observed Mr Amory. “One of the problems we are having is that when the interest rate is very high, farmers tend to shy away for wanting to invest in agriculture.

“So with a zero percent interest rate, I do believe that they would have more persons to come to them to be able to do business. I spoke to them (Development Bank) earlier, and they said yes, quite a number of farmers, fishers availed themselves of that zero percent interest rate.”

According to Mr Amory, the Depart of Agriculture held three successful forums in the month. “We had a consultation on crop production, consultation on livestock production and last night (Thursday May 30) we had a consultation for the fishing industry. In all of the consultations the need for credit came up, and we fortunately had this activity planned to help them. They (farmers) asked about credit, and we are now having this forum as part of it. We see it as very important to be able to work hand in hand with the financial institutions.”

Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis’ Credit Analyst II, Ms Avelyn Browne, reported that people who came to the stand were very much interested in obtaining the interest free loans, and the one thing they wanted to know was the time span it would take before the loan was disbursed.

She noted that most of the persons were in need of start up capital, while others had existing businesses and they wanted funds for their businesses so as to get them off the ground. All sectors of agriculture, including fishing, conch diving, crop farming, pig farming, sheep and goats had persons who came to the stand, including one or two who said they wanted to buy a fishing boat.

“The Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis is in a position to help them as that is part of our portfolio,” said Ms Browne. “They just need to meet the criteria and come and have a sit down with me and we will go from there.”

She said it was a good exposure for the Development Bank as she also got enquiries for mortgage loans, other businesses other than agriculture, student loans and personal development funds (PDFs).

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