Five small farmers have benefited from micro grants from the Jamaica Diaspora Agriculture Taskforce (JDAT) Investor Circle, which will go towards improving and expanding their operations.
They are Mazie Bent from St. Elizabeth, Nicolette Smith-Francis from Clarendon, Clive Pullen from Clarendon, Lorna Fong from Manchester, and Patricia Parchment from Westmoreland.
The recipients, who are involved in subsectors such as chicken, bee, banana, peas, sugar cane, yam and mushroom farming, were presented with funds of between $50,000 and $75,000 each, during a recent function at the Denbigh showground in Clarendon.
The support will go towards putting in drip irrigation systems; purchasing fertiliser, layers, feed, seed, and material for farm expansion; among other things.
Chairperson of JDAT, Kimone Gooden, reported that more than 160 applications were received.
Persons were invited to submit applications at the 2018 Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show, online or through the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).
Gordon said members of the Investor Circle reviewed all the submissions, conducted interviews and shortlisted the candidates, and toured some of the farms before selecting the grantees.
Bee farmer, Patricia Parchment shared with JIS news that she learnt about the grant at Denbigh, expressed joy at being selected for an award.
“I am an organic farmer and a beekeeper, and I find it challenging to expand because of the cost of bee equipment, so this grant funding will assist me greatly with the expansion of my apiary,” she said.
Meanwhile, the JDAT Chairperson said applications for the next round of grant funding will open later this year.
“This was the Investor Circle’s pilot round – a test for the task force to see what works best and to further develop the programme. Next round, the grant will be revamped but with the goal of increasing the funding pool and continuing to make the process a simple one,” she noted.
She said that for the next round, the group will be considering the creation of a special category for young farmers who are just starting out.
JDAT Co-Chair, Denise McLaughlin, said “the whole point of this grant fund is to offer a simplified way for farmers to get funding, as the overwhelming feedback from the farmers is that it is difficult to access support and resources, so we want to make the process as simple as possible”.
The JDAT Investor Circle was officially launched at the Denbigh Show in Clarendon on August 6, 2018, with a goal of providing microfinance funding for local farmers.
The Circle provides an opportunity for persons and organisations within the diaspora and Jamaica, to pool their resources in an effort to assist the country’s agricultural sector. The group has partnered with the JAS to undertake the process.