Government has put mechanisms in place to effectively monitor the grants received by fisherfolk and farmers through its $2 million assistance programme geared towards stimulating food production in the territory.
Premier Andrew Fahie said these systems are to ensure full accountability of the funds awarded to qualified fisherfolk and farmers.
“There’s also a second part to it where the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries have some forms that they have to fill out for statistics, and also to make sure that the persons who receive the grant is living up to their end of the bargain,” Fahie said during a recent statement on local radio station, ZCCR.
Not for overnight fisherfolks or farmers
The application forms to register for the grant became available from June 5, and Premier Fahie warned that the initiative is for persons who have been operating for a number of years and are in need of assistance.
He said the assistance for farmers ranges from supplying their need for property upgrades to acquiring tools or machinery. For fisherfolk, the assistance is for those who may be in need of new fishing equipment or boating upgrades to boost production.
“The grant is a help - a ‘hand up’ and not a ‘hand out’ because if you have farmlands and you could farm but you need a road cut, that will also be considered so that you can farm and then start to put those (produce) into the society,” Premier Fahie said.
“This is not available to overnight fishermen or farmers, meaning that you just wake up and all of sudden you are a fisherman or a farmer. You have to be doing it for a little while. There are some criteria,” he added.
Criteria for qualification
For fisherfolk or farmers to qualify for the grant, they must first be a BVIslander, Belonger, naturalised citizen or permanent resident.
Farmers must also either be registered with the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries or they will have to provide a notarized letter of referral verifying that they have been engaged in farming for the past three years.
The farmer will also have to show that farming is their main source of income and proof of engagement in commercial agriculture. Meanwhile, fisherfolk must be a licenced commercial fisher and have held a commercial fishing licence within the last three years.
If they do not have an existing commercial fishing licence, a notarized letter verifying that they have been engaged in fishing for the last three years will have to be provided.
How to register
To register, persons can either download the electronic version of the form from online at government’s official website and email the completed form to email@example.com.
For a physical application form, persons can visit the Premier’s Office where assistance in completing the form will be provided if needed.
All completed application forms must include a copy of the required documents outlined in the aforementioned criteria. Applicants will be able to apply for the grant up until July 3.