The state-run bank says it can reach out to more farmers and fishermen who are not part of accredited cooperatives.
STATE-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) is offering P3.8 billion ($80.67 million) worth of loans to farmers and fishermen under various programs of the Aquino administration. Landbank President and CEO Gilda Pico said more farmers and fi shermen now have direct access to credit after the government-run bank stepped up efforts to reach out to those who are not members of accredited cooperatives and are unable to secure loans from lending institutions on their own. “By providing individual borrowers with direct access to credit, we eliminate the deterrents that get in the way of small farmers and fishers in need of financing and help increase their productivity and income,” Pico said. Landbank said it continues to strengthen lending programs with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as part of the government’s thrust towards financial inclusion and improved agricultural productivity. For one, the bank has released P2 billion ($42.47 million) in loans to 9,275 farmer- borrowers under Sikat Saka as of end-October 2015. The Sikat Saka program provides direct access to credit for small palay farmers who are members of irrigators’ associations. Most of the country’s palay farmers have no access to formal credit, only depending on informal lenders that charge exorbitant interest rates. The Sikat Saka program, which covers 45 major rice-producing provinces in the country, also offers integrated support such as irrigation, training, market, extension and administrative services. The farmers are likewise trained on credit discipline and financial management to teach them how to save, pay loans on time, and better manage their finances. Another lending program that Landbank implements with DA and DAR is the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), which makes credit more accessible to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) through their organizations. APCP is a transition credit program designed to help prepare Agrarian Reform beneficiaries (ARBs) to become credit conduits of Landbank under the regular lending window. Landbank has so far released P1.7 billion ($36.10 million) in loans to more than 25,000 ARBs nationwide, funding the production of sugar cane, palay, corn, banana, cacao, pineapple, and potato. The government financial institution is also a partner of the DA, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, and the People’s Credit and Finance Corporation in implementing the Agriculture and Fisheries Financing Program (AFFP). Amounting to P101.9 million ($2.16 million), the loan program will help 1,028 small farmers and fi shermen across the country. The program is designed to further increase the productive capacity of small farmers and fi shermen in the priority provinces, raise their income, and contribute to the attainment of food self-sufficiency. Among the priority provinces for AFFP implementation are Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Batanes, Cagayan, Kalinga, Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, Masbate, Romblon, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Aurora, and Zambales. — Rappler. com