DA gives LandBank P1 B for emergency loans to farmers, fishers

Published December 18, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) has deposited P1 billion to LandBak as additional funding for emergency loans to small farmers and fisherfolk during COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, DA said it has already replenished the Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project (SURE COVID-19) loan program, which is part of the agency’s Plant, Plant, Plant program that aims to increase the country’s food adequacy level amid the pandemic.

Photo shows (clockwise from upper left) AgricultureSecretary William D. Dar and LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo lead the virtual MOA signing to implement the expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project (SURE Aid COVID-19) on December 15, 2020 to provide financial assistance to small farmers and fishers affected by the pandemic. The signing was witnessed by Agricultural Credit Policy Council Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R.Badiola, and LANDBANK Agricultural and Development Lending Center Sector Officer-in-Charge Senior Vice President Ma. Celeste A. Burgos.

The new funds came from DA’s budget under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Republic Act 11494.

LandBank said the new funds can aid about 40,000 eligible beneficiaries nationwide that will be endorsed by the ACPC and DA’s Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs) to the state-owned bank’s lending centers.

Under the SURE COVID-19 loan program, eligible small farmers and fishers may borrow up to P25,000, with no collateral, zero interest, and payable in 10 years.

The loan is available to small farmers and fishers whose sources of livelihoods and incomes are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for their emergency and production requirements.

An initial P2.5 billion was allotted for the program to help micro and small enterprises (MSMEs) and small farmers and fishers adversely affected by the quarantine lockdown imposed by the government to help stem the spread of the pandemic.

This amount has been fully released already and supported over 535,000 farmers during the initial and most crucial months of the crisis.

“This is our way of helping agri-fishery MSEs and small farmers and fishers recover from their losses, as they play a crucial role in ensuring the availability of food supply in Metro Manila and other urban centers,” said Dar, noting that this will help further ensure unhampered food production and supply.

As of end-November, LandBank said its cumulative loan releases for the agriculture sector amounted to P7.76 billion, benefitting over 228,000 farmers.

Meanwhile, LandBank recently opened two new lending centers in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Davao del Sur as part of its thrust to expand its reach and intensify support to the agriculture sector in Mindanao.

The new lending centers will provide accessible financial services and affordable credit assistance to clients in the area, notably local government units (LGUs), MSMEs, agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs), and small farmers and fishers for agriculture production, equipment acquisition, and working capital.

The Province of Sultan Kudarat predominantly has an agricultural economy and is known for producing crops such as rice, corn, coconuts, coffee, bananas, mangoes, durians, and African palms. 

It is also home to a few producers of Irish potatoes in the Philippines. Likewise, the largest grains-processing complex in the country can be found in the province’s commercial center in Tacurong City.

Temporarily located in Koronadal City, the LandBank Sultan Kudarat Lending Center will service almost 17,000 small farmers and fishers in the province engaged in crop production, trading, and fishing.

Meanwhile, Davao del Sur is one of the fastest-growing provinces in Mindanao driven by the proliferation of agricultural businesses.

With vast agricultural lands full of fertile soil and enriched by favorable climate, agriculture is the main source of livelihood in the province with farmers producing mainly coconut, rice, corn, bananas, cacao, coffee, fruits and vegetables.

The LandBank Davao del Sur Lending Center, located in Digos City, will provide various lending programs catered to more than 5,000 small farmers and fishers covering the provinces of Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental.

As of end-November 2020, LandBank has a network of 53 Lending Centers in strategic areas nationwide, with the Sultan Kudarat Lending Center and the Davao del Sur Lending Center as the 14th and 15th LandBank Lending Centers in Mindanao, respectively.

This is complemented by the Bank’s 414 branches and extension offices across all 81 provinces in the country.