The National People’s Co-operative Bank of Jamaica Limited (NPCB) is the only ‘community bank’ for rural agricultural and community development in Jamaica. The Bank provides a range of services to its members/clients including savings
and loan facilities to the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), legal services (e.g. Financing the acquisition of land titles working through and with the National Land Acquisition Programme of the Ministry of Agriculture),
limited bill payment services (Paymaster) and the Family Indemnity Insurance Plan through CUNA Mutual.
The Bank’s history dates back to 1905 when it was established as cooperative savings and loans institution under the Industrial and Provident Societies Law. The PC Bank movement spread rapidly and by 1960 there were banks in operation islandwide. In that year, the enactment of the Agricultural Credit Board Law gave the Agricultural Credit Board regulatory authority over the PC Banks while they maintained their autonomy. These banks were originally used by the Government of Jamaica to dispense relief, rehabilitation loans and grants after natural disasters. With the urgent need for increased production after World War II, the PC Banks became a vital link in the agricultural credit chain. Over the years they have become the main financial institution for helping small farmers to help themselves and maintain their livelihood. Their numbers expanded and in 1994 there were 116 banks.
Since then, through reorganization and rationalization, the PC Banks were merged into a single entity the National People’s Co-operative Bank of Jamaica Ltd. (NPCB) with 35 branches and two sub-agencies across the island. The NPCB was registered under the Companies Act in December 2005 and falls under the Cooperative Act of Jamaica.
The DBJ played an integral role in the reorganization of the NPCB and continues to have oversight responsibility for the Bank’s operation. As an approved financial institution the NPCB has performed well over the past three years and
has shown increased potential for growth. The NPCB is now considered to be ‘more than the farmer’s bank’.
The NPCB network of branches continues to provide critical support to small and medium-sized enterprises across many agricultural sub-sectors – such as the Broiler industry, where relatively large sums are being committed to high-tech tunnel ventilation systems, fishing, greenhouse technology, pig farming, goat rearing, dairy revitalization, agro-processing, and farm transportation.
The NPCB is also a lifeline for many small farmers who would not otherwise be able to access financing of any kind from commercial institutions because of the vulnerability to natural disasters.
While the DBJ continues to support the NPCB with funding for its agricultural programmes, technical assistance and training of its personnel, there is on-going rationalization of the NPCB with a view to ensuring that the organization is profitable and sustainable by December 2012.
Total loans committed to the NPCB during 2010/2011 amounted to J$351.3 million while disbursements amounted to J$344.5 million for 154 projects.