Lions Club distributes vouchers and cash to 20 farmers
October 7, 2014
Lions Club distributes vouchers and cash to 20 farmers

Twenty farmers had reason to smile yesterday, when they received vouchers and cash to be used to improve their farm production.

In celebration of World International Service Day in the Lions movement, the Lions Club of St Vincent South launched {{more}}their Farmer Relief Programme by distributing vouchers and cash to farmers.

President Michael John was speaking at the handing over ceremony yesterday, when he outlined to farmers the history of the Lions Club, which is one of the largest service organizations in the world.

He also noted that the project came about as a result of the club’s efforts to help farmers affected by the December 2013 floods.

“Today we will be handing over vouchers valued at $700 plus $100 cash to 20 farmers. It is said ‘give a man a fish and he will have food for a day, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime’,” John said.

“This project, which is listed as a farmer relief project, is one of our sustainable projects in this calendar year. It came about due to the club’s efforts during the December floods 2013. We are very thankful to our donors.”

In his remarks, the president stressed the importance of consuming local produce in an effort to decrease the import bill for vegetables that can be grown here on fertile soil.

“We, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, we are blessed with fertile lands. Why can’t we be feeding ourselves more? Why are there so many imported vegetables in our supermarkets? I am from the Marriaqua Valley and I know that agriculture is one area where you can always have a dollar in your pocket. We should go back to the lands. Feed ourselves more. Our plate on mornings should consist of more homegrown products, vegetables,” John told farmers.

He also took the opportunity to encourage farmers to use the vouchers and cash meaningfully.

In addition, the Lions Club St Vincent South donated 100 broiler chicks to the New Adelphi Secondary School and also presented some cash to the school to purchase feed for the programme.

John noted that it was “also a very important project to us and would like another school to come on board.”

Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar commended the service club for their donation and advised farmers that the Lions Club could have chosen to support a different initiative.

He added that the act would translate not only to the communities and onto the farms, but back to the plates of so many Vincentians that support locally grown produce.

“I am definitely overjoyed being here this morning for several reasons. The monies allocated towards the issue of recovery by the Lions Club could have been dedicated to other things, but someone had to sit in a meeting and carefully think through it, realizing the need in the farming community, [and] come up with idea to provide,” Caesar said.

“We are here today not only to address the issue of disaster recovery … but we are here also to address the issue of food security, food sovereignty and a very important issue – income and livelihoods.”

The Agriculture Minister noted that almost $40 million worth of damage was done to the agricultural sector and forests as a result of the floods in December and he not only urged farmers to use money wisely, but also to invest in the Farmer Support Company, a six million dollar credit facility that can be used by farmers to upgrade their business.

“Monies that you are receiving today is going to take you somewhere, but I want those farmers who are here who have not yet applied to the farmer support company and are in need of the credit, to ensure that you visit the Ministry of Agriculture and you get extra monies to assist you in your production during this year,” Caesar said.

The farmers who received vouchers yesterday were Patricia Wilson, Bernice Peters, Janice Francis, Bridgette McNicholls, Nolia Cain, Elizabeth Wilson, Jasmine Jackson, Clorith Cupid, St Clair Crichton, Clutie Hillocks, Jeff Wayne Simon, Jeffrey Richards, Alfred Baptiste, Valentine Samuel, Moriah Simon, Cauldrick Harry, Brain Ledger, Valton Layne, Winston Bullock and Hudson John.

Vouchers may be redeemed at the Agricultural Input Warehouse.

The Lions Club St Vincent South will carry out follow-ups with farmers to assess the effect of the programme, which they hope to make an ongoing initiative.

The programme costs approximately $20,000 which was acquired through a Canadian donor and Q-Care pharmacy in St Vincent and the Grenadines.(BK)