Regional farmers looking for more information on financial issues

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana — CARICOM food producers in rural communities are calling for more information on financing packages, tax benefits and export rules. These are some of the findings of a CARICOM Secretariat study investigating CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) awareness levels and the readiness for participating in the CSME by rural communities.

The project was facilitated with financial assistance under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF), Caribbean Integration Support Programme.

The final report of the study further reveals that respondents under the age of 35 are more interested in the CSME, while fruit and vegetable producers over 55 were negative in responses relating to greater engagement in the CSME.

The investigation was carried out during the months of August and September 2010 in 7 CARICOM Member States: Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

The average age of the producers in the sample of 224 was between 40 and 55 and they were all concerned about similar issues such as praedial larceny; drainage and irrigation; access roads; market information and costs of inputs.

The producers also requested increased information on the CSME via text messaging, websites, government agriculture extension officers and through existing organizations like the Caribbean farmers Network (CAFAN).

At least 50 percent of the rural producers polled were aware of the CSME; however in Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines this increased to more than 70 percent of the sample.

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