The newly appointed Board of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) has been mandated by Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat to have an accelerated focus on micro lending and the optimal participation of youth in agriculture.
Rambharat issued the mandate following the ceremony to hand out letters of appointment to board members Winston Rudder - chairman, Sekou Mark - deputy chairman, and directors William Benjamin, Marcus Sun Kow, Ronald Chan, Kerry Ann Harrison and Randall Mohammed at the ministry's corporate office in Chaguanas.
In alluding to the importance of micro lending to those farmers requiring that bridging capital in between crop production and/or payment, Rambharat said that several young people had expressed to him, their disillusionment with the limited prospects offered for personal advancement within the sector, post-training.
“When we talk about youth in agriculture it was just a short-term engagement in which there was a short period of training and exposure but what is next? They do not have land (nor access to land), collateral or capital to take their training and exposure any further. The youth facility that I envisaged would combine this training with access to land and access to capital and I saw the opportunity to utilize the $100,000.00 incentive (grant) announced in the 2018 Budget as a form of guarantee in an agricultural initiative which the Government regards as worthy of support.”
Meanwhile Rudder, whom Rambharat described as having a wealth of experience in both the agricultural and public sectors, said the ADB will never realize its optimal impact unless it forges strategic relationships, with both public and private institutions along the agricultural value chain.
"I have worked far too long to continue operating within an environment of silos and so, as important as the Agricultural Development Bank is to the development of the sector and in the diversification thrust, it will make little or no impact unless it sees itself as a partner with other significant institutions in the sector, which will in turn, provide that coherent, co-ordinated support that is required.”
Rudder added that there continues to be the perception that the ADB was “a lender to primary production” which he clarified, “could never be further from the truth”, having regard to the “reality” of what agriculture was.
“Agriculture is everything along the value chain from what is produced and all the activities involved in taking it to the market. “The Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) is not a bank for farmers but a bank for agricultural development and agricultural development involves much more than farming," Rudder said.
The board, which was appointed in accordance with the provisions of Section 9 of the Agricultural Development Bank Act Chapter 79:07 of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, will serve for a period of two years.