The Government of Grenada, in recognition of the plight of the farming community, particularly cocoa and nutmeg farmers with the sale of produce interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, has agreed to provide a grant of $1 million for the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA).
Government says the grant is to be used strictly for price support payments for farmers across the country and not to fund administrative expenses.
The decision was taken at this week’s Cabinet meeting, which considered a proposal submitted by the Minister for Agriculture and Lands, Honourable Yolande Bain-Horsford.
Explaining the rationale for the grant, Minister Bain-Horsford said, “The financial viability of the GCNA is under serious threat without the ability to export to the European markets and therefore requires this urgent injection of capital from Government.”
Earlier this month, nutmeg farmers resumed selling their produce to the GCNA. The Agriculture and Lands Minister said the association now faces “an inventory build-up and is required to pay for produce even though there are no sales on the international market. The situation has forced the GCNA to use increased overdraft facilities to continue the purchase of nutmeg and mace.”
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, said Government is committed to ensuring that the nation’s farmers are not marginalised.
Dr. Mitchell said, “In light of the financial limitations of the GCNA and its inability to continue buying product, without an available market, the Cabinet agreed to provide the much-needed support for farmers. Resources are scarce and there are many unknowns as it relates to the duration of this pandemic and its impact on Government’s revenue streams. However, as Government continues to examine ways to bring relief to those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to safeguard the livelihood of the country’s farmers and to help stimulate the rural economy. This was among the critical considerations as we discussed and approved the grant for the GCNA.”
It is not the first time Government has lent support to the commodity boards. Dr. Mitchell said, “We have consistently supported cocoa and nutmeg farmers over the years, providing grant and loan support to the respective associations to ensure that the livelihood of members are not adversely affected. We have also consistently advised the associations that it cannot be business as usual; the structure must be changed to one that is more business-oriented and capable of sustaining the livelihood of farmers, even in the midst of challenges, whether it’s a pandemic or a drop in price.”
In addition to the grant, Government is also proposing a loan of $2 million to the GCNA. The terms and conditions of both the grant and loan will be negotiated between the GCNA and a Cabinet sub-committee, comprising of Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Honourable Oliver Joseph, Parliamentary Representative for St. Patrick West, Honourable Anthony Boatswain and Dr. Kelvin George, Director of the Department of Economic and Technical Cooperation.