The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to offer about P90 million as “proactive support” to farmers and fishermen in Aklan province ahead of the six-month closure of Boracay island.
According to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, the amount would be in the form of loans coursed through programs for these workers, most of whom sell their produce in the famed tourist destination.
These include a P39-million loan fund under the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program, which farmers and fishermen can access through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC).
“Instead of subsidies, we will go for easy access credit,” Piñol said during a forum in the provincial capital Kalibo last Thursday.
We will even provide emergency loads, he added.
The DA will also grant accredited farmers and fishermen loans of P25,000 per family, with zero interest and collateral, through the Survival and Recovery Loan Program (SURE).
It will offer farm machinery and equipment loans of up to P50 million with 2-percent annual interest to eligible farmers’ associations and cooperatives.
Piñol said his agency would set aside the usual bidding process to allow farmers to choose the equipment they want to buy.
He also encouraged fishermen to boost their efforts in raising bangus (milkfish), saying that Aklanons were very good in fishpond operations and that he was planning a loaning program for fish cage operators.
“In Mindanao, they are earning as [much]as P700,000 to P1 million…every six months in each bangus fish cage, with P2 million to P3 million capital,” he said.
DA officials will be validating those qualified for the loans.
The island’s closure to tourists, which will begin on April 26, is expected to affect 35,000 workers and result in losses worth almost P20 billion.