Business

DBJ earmarks $100m for agri loans

Friday, August 15, 2014    

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THE Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has earmarked $100 million for loans to the agriculture sector.

DBJ is offering up to 90 per cent financing and interest rates of 10 per cent a year and lower.

The loan facility was primarily designed for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with annual sales of $150 million or less. It is focused on helping boost crop and livestock production, agro-processing, energy conservation projects, infrastructural development of farms and the purchase and repair of farm vehicles, among other things.

Larger businesses with over $150 million in annual income can also access loans, but they won't get more than 70 per cent financing for projects.

"The maximum value of the loan is the Jamaican dollar equivalent of US$80,000, ($9 million)," said Claudette White, DBJ's communication and marketing manager. "However, farmers can borrow up to $100 million by mixing this line of credit with other DBJ lines."

Farmers can't access the facility directly from the DBJ. But they can get the low-cost loans through the agency's approved financial institutions (AFIs), which included commercial banks, credit unions, and the National People's Cooperative Bank.

Collateral in the form of land titles, vehicles or equipment are typically required to access loans. However, the DBJ's Credit Enhancement Facility provides partial guarantee of up to $10 million or 50 per cent of the loan amount for viable SME projects, according to White.

"Since inception, DBJ has provided $309M in guarantees allowing over 150 borrowers to access over $620M in loans," she told the Jamaica Observer.

"DBJ's loans to the agricultural sector promote increased domestic agricultural production to enhance food security

while reducing foreign expenditure on food imports, increasing opportunities for value- added agro-processing and foreign exchange earnings from exports" she added.

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