Fisherfolk are being encouraged to invest in the fishing industry through the Agricultural Development Bank’s (ADB) loan package, ‘Sea to Shore: Funding Fisherfolk Responsibly.”
The initiative was launched on Tuesday with ADB’s Corporate Manager, Wendy Beharry, saying the loan was designed to encourage fisherfolk to invest in the sector.
“To access the loan, you must be a citizen or resident over the age of 18 or a company registered to conduct business in Trinidad and Tobago. We would consider existing, past or new entrepreneurs in the sector as well as those persons that are involved both on a part time and full-time basis,” said Beharry.
She said the money can be used to purchase new and used pirogues and motor boats, new and used in-board and out-board engines, fishing equipment, finance working capital needs or repair y vessels.
“It is simply an offering that varies between a minimum of $5,000 up to a maximum of $200,000, at an interest rate of five per cent. It’s repayable over a period of three to five years and that’s negotiable. The moratorium can also be negotiated,” she said. adding that the loan is being offered with a security requirement of 30 per cent collateral.
In remarks at the launch at the Rovanel’s Resort and Conference Centre in Bon Accord, ADB;s Chief Executive Officer, Sheivan Ramnath said the programme was also intended to promote and encourage sustainable fishing practices and fishing gear and best practices of safety at sea.
“It aims to create a more focused enabled environment through financial inclusion in rural coastal communities that are dependent on the fishing activity through the concept of funding fisherfolk responsibly,” said Ramnath.
ADB’s chairman, Winston Rudder, said the loan package was fully grounded in a comprehensive framework aligned to the national development aspirations of Trinidad and Tobago as outlined in Vision 2030.
“Agriculture and fishing are business enterprises requiring the application of business skills and acumen and that is why we at ADB foster and depend on and emphasise strategic alliances.
“This is what underpins our Memorandum of Understanding between the bank and the Division of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries, because it is one thing for us to be a source of financing but it’s another thing for the fisherman who is involved in fisheries production to have mastered the skills, the technology that allows him to fish efficiently and effectively, and allows him to manage his financial resources in a very prudent manner,” he said.
Chief Secretary, Kelvin Charles, congratulated the board and management of ADB for getting it right as he noted that the fishing industry was the second most important activity in Tobago, as well as an earner of foreign exchange.
Charles said however, that fishing industry was at this time characterised by unsustainable management and inadequate surveillance of fishing activities.
“Since we consider the industry as a critical part of the agricultural thrust and the need to advance our economic agenda, the THA has been pursuing an ongoing programme aimed at reorganising and upgrading the fisheries industry,” he said.
“The Tobago fishing industry continues to play a vital role in the socio-economic life of the island and especially within the rural and coastal communities. I am advised that it employs over 1,000 registered fishermen... there are about 550 registered fishing boats. Certainly, I know that workers are engaged in the building of boats and fishing nets in Tobago, as well as there are service providers in repairing boat engines and net,” he said.
Charles challenged stakeholders to play their respective part in ensuring that the loan product was successfully executed and guarantee that the facility achieves its overall socio-economic impact.