Farmers and Extension Officers are now more knowledgeable in financial management, having participated in a workshop on Farm Management and Record Keeping.
The capacity building session which was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Grenada Development Bank, saw input from Minister for Agriculture Hon. Peter David, General Manager of Grenada Development Bank Mervyn Lord and Senator Roderick St Clair Farmers and Fisheries Representative in the Senate.
The Grenada Development Bank, previously known as the Agricultural Bank, provides loan assistance to farmers. However, since the early 2000s, non-performing loans, especially in the farming and fishing categories, have made it difficult to carry on this task effectively.
Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Peter David underlined the importance of the business of farming in livelihood development. Minister David said underdevelopment, particularly in the rural communities, can only be remedied when finance in agriculture is addressed.
He called on farmers to do their part to ensure that finances are made available to the sector. “GDB should be giving loans but it can only lend money if these loans are performing loans. We should address how we get our loans to be performing; how does farmer A pay his loan back so that farmer B can walk into the bank tomorrow morning. If the bank continues on a high level of non-performance, then there would be no loans for anyone in the future,” he said.
General Manager of the Grenada Development Bank Mervyn Lord said the workshop was important in ensuring that farmers are aware of the value of financial management. “In the early 2000, almost half of the GDB portfolio was non-performing. I am happy to say that at the end of 2020, we were 2.16%…but agriculture, very importantly, is still at 14%; fishing, very, very important, is still at 29%. This workshop can be the start to reducing those kinds of figures,” remarked Lord.
The workshop, facilitated by the GDB’s Business Support and Development Officer Natasha Joseph looked at cash flow management, record keeping and the importance of the National Insurance Scheme.
Farmers and Fisheries Representative in the Senate Roderick St Clair explained to farmers the significance of operating their farm as a business. He said, “To do a business, you need to know what is happening. It is like driving your vehicle, you need to know what is happening on your dashboard; it is like living your life. Being able to keep records, to be able to track what we are doing, to be able to monitor and to be able to improve is very important.”
It is the hope of the Ministry and the Grenada Development Bank that going forward, efficient financial management practices by farmers and extension officers will be a priority.
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