By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Though it hasn’t yet secured the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte for the ₱31 billion supple-mental budget it is asking from the national government, the Department of Agriculture (DA) already knows exactly where to use the fund.
On Friday, the DA, through the Agriculture Credit Policy Council (ACPC), said it has approved an initial ₱1-billion loan assistance to marginal farmers and fisher¬folk, as well as agri-fishery micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
This is amid the state of national emergency, which was triggered by the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The financing program, according to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, is going to be part of the expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project in support of the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19 or “Plant, Plant, Plant Program”.
ALPAS COVID-19 is supposed to have a budget of about ₱31 billion and has already been approved by the country’s Inter-Agency Task Force for Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID).
The project is DA’s initiative to increase farm productivity and ensure food sufficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dar said the loan facility will provide small farmers, fishers and agri-fishery MSMEs with needed working capital to continue operations amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) placed over Luzon.
Under the expanded loan program, eligible MSMEs (single proprietorship, partnership, corporation or cooperative/association) may borrow up to ₱10 million at zero interest, payable up to five years.
Individual farmers and fishers, on the other hand, can borrow non-collateralized loan of ₱25,000 at zero interest and payable in 10 years. Only one borrower is allowed per farm/fisher household.
ar added that farmers, fishers and MSMEs who will participate in the DA’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program will be given priority.
“The idea is to provide emergency and production capital requirements for our marginalized sector, whose operations and earnings were severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon,” Dar said.