Government is making it easier and quicker for farmers to access several of its agricultural incentives through a new prepaid rebate system set up by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management.
That is the word from Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick, who explained that the new prepaid system would eliminate the need for farmers to pay the full cost up front to access critical agricultural supplies and services and then recover the rebate from the Ministry.
Speaking during a press briefing today at his office at Graeme Hall, Christ Church, he said the initiative would provide relief to some 6, 000 plus farmers in Barbados, several of whom were concerned about the length of time it took to recover government’s rebates.
Citing the example of purchasing a set of spray cans for $100 with a rebate of $20, he said: "The supplier would give you an invoice for $100 and you would bring that invoice to the Ministry and we will give you the $20 value of the rebate in a Local Purchase Order (LPO). So, when you take back the invoice and LPO to the supplier, all you would have to pay is $80," Dr. Estwick explained.
The Agriculture Minister pointed out that the new system would go some way in boosting local food production and food security.
"We believe very strongly that this new type of agricultural programme would not only drive new persons into agriculture, but it will help those existing persons in agriculture to be able to expand their operations because it will improve not only their cash flow, but it would improve their capacity to purchase new equipment or carry out repairs," he noted.
Dr. Estwick added that the new prepaid scheme augured well for young persons who wished to become farmers, as they would not have to use all of their funds upfront to purchase any necessary equipment or supplies.
The Agriculture Minister noted that all the major suppliers and the members of the farming community were onboard with the new scheme.
Among the areas covered by the new prepaid rebate scheme are irrigation systems, livestock development, farm security, postharvest technology, organic farming, and new crop technology – greenhouses and hydroponic systems.
The new prepaid system will work alongside the current postpaid rebate scheme, with the option being given to farmers, since some preferred the latter method.
Farmers may contact the Ministry of Agriculture’s Services Unit, Graeme Hall, Christ Church, at 434-5000 ext. 5077, 5078, 5023, or 5133 or 5082. They may visit the Ministry’s website at www.agriculture.gov.bb to find out if they qualify and learn about the process of applying for the rebate.