|Natalie Goff, DFC General Manager and Alfredo Ortega, BSCFA.
The Development Finance Corporation of Belize has made available 3 million dollars for sugar cane farmers in the northern part of the country for the improvement of their crop. The program was launched on Wednesday April 20th at the Escuela Secundaria Mexico in Santa Clara Village.
Under the lending program cane farmers will be able to access between 5 to 20 thousand dollars at a variable interest rate of 9% per annum with a one year grace period.
Under the lending guidelines of the Sugar Cane Replanting program cane farmers who are active and have consecutively delivered cane for three consecutive years qualify for the loan. Farmers must also prove their creditworthiness, that is, have been able to fully repay previous loans or have made meaningful efforts to repay. The loan request must be for the replanting of existing cane fields and those doing so must receive recommendations from the Sugar Industry Research and Development Institute indicating that the proposed replanting is feasible and that yields can be increased to at least 25 tons per acre.
The loans purpose should be for any of the following: Land preparation, equipment rental, purchase of certified seed material, purchase of agro-chemical inputs and labour for agronomic practices. Any farmer who meets the criteria should also be between the ages of 18 and 70 years of age. The loan size should also not exceed $1,400 per acre with farmers contributing at least 10 percent of the cost of the project.
Loan repayments will be made through a deduction order from BSI where a payment of $12 per ton from the first payment and $3 per ton from the second payment.
Funds are being made available through the Caribbean Development Bank.