By Zaldy Comanda
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Some 1,648 cut flower farmers can now process their loan application forms under the Expanded Survival and Recovery (SURE) Aid Program after having been duly certified and endorsed as eligible farmers by the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera (DA-CAR).
The SURE Aid loan also known as COVID-19 loan window is part of the DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program or the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19 program that aims to increase the country’s food adequacy level.
La Trinidad farmer-beneficiaries are from Beckel (404), Bahong (318), Alno (268), Ambiong (149), Bineng (137), Shilan (134), Lubas (114), Wangal (86), Alapang (20), Tawang (13), and Pico (5).
Each farmer-borrower will be receiving up to P25,000 loan at zero-interest rate, no collateral requirements, and is payable within 10 years. The loan will be used to at least cover their overhead cost during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine or ECQ period and it may also be used to engage in other income-generating activities to offset or compensate their losses.
“The loan is purposely for the cut flower farmers to recover from the effect of ECQ, for them to start their farm operations because definitely, they incurred losses as they were not able to sell their products,” said Regional Technical Director for Operations and Loan Facilitation Team (LoFT) Leader Danilo Daguio.
Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) focal person for CAR Krystle Ann Balingan said that the Producers Savings Bank Corporation (PSBC), which serves as the lending conduit, opened since last week to assist the farmer-borrowers on the orientation, loan application, and loan release. She added that the processing of applications took for a while due to the ECQ restrictions but assured that every farmer was validated prior to inclusion in the master list.
For other municipalities, ACPC is currently making arrangements with the LGUs to provide special passes to farmers to enable them to transact with lending conduits for the processing of their loans.
Aside from the loan assistance, the affected cut flower farmers from the seven main cut flower-producing barangays in La Trinidad were also provided with assorted vegetable seeds in support of the DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program.