The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $50,000 to Rota through its Rural Business Development Grant Program for the production of a feasibility study on the development of a slaughterhouse on the island.
Joseph M. Diego, USDA Rural Development Area director for the Western Pacific, said this grant demonstrates USDA’s continued commitment to investing in small towns and rural communities.
“This grant will explore opportunities to spur entrepreneurship, create jobs and improve the quality of life on Rota and, more importantly, it is an investment in support of a local and regional food supply chain for the CNMI,” Diego said.
According to Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig, the study would benefit the municipality by identifying opportunities and determining the island’s current capacity to meet market demands.
“We now have the opportunity to look at our island’s resources and capabilities to see if we can have this additional industry on island. These capacities could be in terms of the availability of qualified workforce, livestock supply, and adequate infrastructure based on the island’s current resources,” Atalig said.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres believes the study will allow the ranching community to engage in production planning that will advance new and existing agricultural business opportunities for the island.
“The study will specify the pros and cons. From there we as policy makers and stakeholders can assemble and rally to develop solutions that will bolster the agriculture industry for Rota and the CNMI as a whole. It has been a priority of this administration to provide more opportunities for farmers and ranchers. This grant not only paves the way for that, but it also adds another resource for the people of Rota,” Torres noted.
Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog underscored the importance of expanding Rota’s ranching opportunities.
“Agriculture has long been an economic driving force for Rota. A slaughterhouse would advance the production of livestock and eventually generate revenue for the island and jobs for the people of Rota,” Hocog said.
CNMI Office of Grants Management and State Clearinghouse administrator Epiphanio E. Cabrera, Jr. said this project is a “needed resource” for Rota.
“More grant and loan opportunities will be realized through this feasibility study. It would allow for better resource allocation and potential market shifts. We plan to work with USDA to formalize the request for proposal and further narrow the scope of work to achieve maximum returns for the Rota community,” Cabrera added. (PR)