The Puerto Rico Economic Development Bank has approved $33 million in loans to island farmers since the current administration took over in 1999, agency President Ivonne Otero said Thursday.
“Since 2009 one of our priorities have been our farmers and their families, those who reap the future of our Puerto Rico,” she said.
The EDB, in coordination with other government agencies, is looking to spur a 15 percent increase in the local agricultural economy over the next four years by providing incentives to young farmers and promoting export to regional markets, she noted.
Of the $33 million in approved loans, the EDB has already disbursed more than $25.2 million to about 751 farmers.
“Puerto Rico’s farming economy in one of the sectors with greater opportunities and incentives for employment and the EDB, in coordination with the Land Authority and the Agriculture Department, will be there to help families who want to join the agricultural sector,” the government official said.
The EDB chief added that the agency’s portfolio of products tailored for farmers includes loans of up to $5 million to be used for working capital for seven years. The money can be used to pay establishing the harvest, as well as purchasing seeds and animals. This specific loan targets women and young farmers.
Farmers represent 13 percent of the EDB’s total loan portfolio. That said, in 2009, the agency launched the popular Urban Market program, that gives farmers the opportunity to sell their goods to the public. The 52nd edition of the Urban Market at Condado’s Ventana al Mar will take place Sunday.