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Review of SAEP is needed

File photo of a SAEP training session for young entrepreneurs on the island

The father of a small businessman involved in the multi-million dollar Climate Smart Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Programme (SAEP) has given full support to statements made by Grenada’s new Attorney General Claudette Joseph on the slow rate of implementation of projects under the directorship of Byron Campbell.

He called THE NEW TODAY on the weekend to challenge the response made to the Minister by Campbell that the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic was primarily responsible for the delay in implementing several projects in the pipeline.

He said that the operators of SAEP are slow in disbursing funds but keep calling on persons to attend training sessions in Business Management and Accounting skills in order to qualify for grant funding for their projects.

The father charged that after these sessions, the trainees are supposed to get a small percentage of the funds they need to improve their businesses but this is not happening.

He spoke of his son only getting just over $1000.00 and not even $2000.00 to purchase a piece of equipment that was needed for his business.

According to the father, the recipients will not get the money directly but has to present a bill head to SAEP and if once the funds are approved will then directly make the payment to the supplier.

He said that his son has been involved in the SAEP project for 2 years running and only received “the first push money” and nothing else to give a boost to his business venture.

He attacked SAEP and its implementing agency, the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) “of making young people think that adults in authority cannot be trusted because every time he (his son) calls and ask what is the hold-up for this money that he’s supposed to get, he gets a different excuse… they tell him the procedure is long.”

The father said he is aware of several batches of young people who did receive training from SAEP but they are currently experiencing severe problems in getting the funds to advance their businesses.

The parent called on the major donor for the project, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to look into the status of SAEP on the island as young people are not benefiting in a meaningful way.

He insisted that Covid did not hamper the execution of the project as those in charge of SAEP were doing their training using the online platform and called the names of several persons who did their entire training online.

“So this thing of Covid being a problem and they could not accomplish (is not true) … they are taking the money and putting it in other places,” he said.

The father identified another parent who wrote to IFAD to warn them that their monies are not being put to good use on the island and needed “to audit their business in Grenada and see the implementation rate of their projects and see why there are so many problems.”

“It seems as if the trainers are the ones making the money,” he remarked.

According to the parent, AG Claudette Joseph has “come upon a gold mine” to expose the failings of SAEP.

He urged officials of the Congress government to call the many persons who received training under SAEP and ask them about their experiences as many have not received even “a penny” in financial support.

“Every time he (his son) calls they tell him don’t call us we’ll call you,” he quipped.

SAEP is a six (6) year Programme that covers the period 2018- 2024 with the funding provided by IFAD, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Grenada.

It is part of the Rural Development Unit of the Ministry of Finance and focuses on assisting beneficiaries to improve their livelihoods through skills training, investments in agriculture, teaching Climate Smart Practices and providing Business Skills Training and Technical services to Rural Enterprises in the rural communities throughout the island.

The project is intended to provide Business Support, Entrepreneurial Skills Training and Financing to aspiring young entrepreneurs through the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC), and Vocational Skills Training for young people through the T.A. Marryshow Community College, NEWLO and Grenada National Training Agency in approved training centers island wide.

Under the project, the beneficiaries can also receive extension support, as well as training in Climate Change and Climate Smart Agriculture and financing for CSA initiatives to be facilitated through the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Ministry of Climate Resilience and Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, and Market Support Services for farmers through a Marketing Officer, and contracting for the construction or rehabilitation of rural farm access roads and the rehabilitation of irrigation systems for farmers.

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