By CHINO S. LEYCO
State-lender Land Bank of the Philippines is on track to hit agriculture loan target this year, the Department of Finance (DOF) announced yesterday.
In a statement, the DOF cited a Landbank report showing that the government-run lender already lent out ₱229.38 billion to the agriculture sector at end-January, achieving 86.5 percent of its loan target of ₱265 billion for 2020.
Cecilia Borromeo, Landbank President and Chief Executive Officer said that one month into the year, they already assisted 17,681 small farmers and fishers in accessing various lending programs, bringing the total number to 1,050,663 assisted farmers and fishers as of January.
This brings the Landbank on track to achieving its target of assisting two million small farmers and fishers by yearend, she said in her report to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III.
Of the ₱229.38 billion loaned out to the agriculture sector, ₱1.36 billion were released through direct lending to farmers and fishers, while ₱38.53 billion were given through conduits such as cooperatives, farmers’ associations and rural financial institutions, Borromeo said.
A total of ₱136.18 billion in loans were extended to small, medium and large agribusiness enterprises, while ₱53.31 billion were released to help finance agri-aqua related projects of local government units (LGUs) and government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).
On Landbank’s programs administered for the Department of Agriculture (DA), Borromeo said cumulative releases as of January 31 from the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund amounted to ₱1.42 billion.
For the DA’s Socialized Credit Program under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act, cumulative releases reached ₱130 million, while the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance-Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund has ₱410 million and the Survival and Recovery Assistance Program with ₱2.28 billion.
Of these programs, the ERCA-RCEF and SURE-Aid, which were implemented to provide support to farmers following the implementation of the rice tariffication law, have the highest utilization rates of 82 percent and 91.2 percent, respectively.
The cumulative releases as of January 31 under the Credit Assistance Program-Program Beneficiaries Development (CAP-PBD) administered for the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) amounted to ₱580 million, Borromeo said.
Earlier, Borromeo reported to Dominguez that Landbank exceeded its target of providing agricultural credit worth ₱231.25 billion in 2019, with ₱236.31 billion of loans extended to the farm and fisheries sector as of end-December last year, representing a 102 percent accomplishment rate.
Borromeo added that they also exceeded its target of assisting one million farmers in 2019 by 32,982, which represent a 103 percent accomplishment rate for 2019.
Under Republic Act (RA) No. 10000 or the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, banks are required to allot at least 15 percent of their total loanable funds to farmers and fisherfolk, and 10 percent to agrarian reform beneficiaries.