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Farmers Get Hurricane Fiona Relief

Courtney Missick (centre) of Isaac Farm in North Caicos and Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister Responsible for Agriculture share a light moment as Missick accepts his farm grant from the minister. Sharing in the moment is Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary with with responsibility for Farming. Missick was one of the many farmers who received grants to assist with their farms.

Registered farmers with the Agriculture Department, who suffered crop losses from Hurricane Fiona, received compensation from government at a ceremony held at the Kew Town Farmers' Market, on Providenciales, Tuesday, January 31.

A totally of 12 farmers received Hurricane Fiona relief. Additionally, government provided grants to young and upcoming farmers to build their farms. Fifteen such farmers benefited.

The ceremony marked the first time in the TCI’s history that farmers were being assisted with hurricane relief funds and grants to grow their farms.

She pointed out that government was committed to supporting the local farmers to grow food security in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

She pointed out that her government’s priority is to facilitate investment in the agricultural sector as outline in the Progressive National Party (PNP) Manifesto.

“In February of 2022, my government launched the Agricultural Finance Support Programme…that’s the agro-grant incentive. This finance support programme for farmers is the first programme of its kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands and shows government’s mandate is to invest heavily in local foods by providing financial support,” Minister Connolly said.

Hon. Josephine Connolly (seated at second from right), Minister responsible for Farming, Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh (seated at left), Director of Agriculture; Minister of Health Hon. Shaun Malcolm (fifth from left - standing); Hon. Kyle Knowles (seventh from left - standing) , MP for Wheeland; and Wesley Clerveaux (right, standing), PS with responsibility for Agriculture share in a photo op with farmers and Agriculture Department employees at the event.and

Connolly said government has allocated $250,000 in the first year, to promote agriculture development. Noting that the finance programme comprises three areas of support: to upgrade farms with farmers receiving maximum of $20,000; supporting new farmers between the ages of 15 and 25 years old, with a maximum of $15,000; and disaster relief, which 10 percent of the assessed damages, which is up to a maximum of $20,000.

“Today 12 farmers have received grants in the first two categories. Today, we are here to give disaster relief to those farmers who would have suffered from losses due to the passage of Hurricane Fiona in September of last year.

“Government knows that farming is an expensive business. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on the investment they make on their farms, because we live on small islands that are vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes,” she pointed, asserting that disasters could have devastating effects on years of work.

Connolly pointed out that government was aware of the contribution farmers make to local food security and the vulnerabilities they face.

She said such realities spurred government into action to protect and build the farms.

In the meantime, Connolly reminded that last year the administration approved a cabinet paper that amended the Agriculture Policy, which paved the way for providing full exemption of import duties and for farm vehicles.

“Registered farmers can now apply through the Department of Agriculture for this support. At the meeting we also agreed for the Department of Agriculture to development of a comprehensive Agro Incentive Programme to support farming in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

For her part, Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh, Director of Agriculture stated that the local Providenciales populace has fallen in love with the local produce brought to the Kew Town Farmers Market, which she said was a strong indication the citizenry was willing to support the local farmers.

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