The Department of Agriculture (DA) should maximize use of a P1-billion fund intended to help small farmers and fishermen obtain credit and allow them to procure needed materials and equipment to earn and provide for their family’s daily needs, Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Tuesday.
“The Agriculture and Fishery Financing Program (AFFP) is a P1-billion credit facility, and yet only P106.5 million has been released to farmers and fisherfolk borrowers in 2014,” Binay noted.
The AFFP is a flexible credit facility that aims to increase the productive capacity, competitiveness and income-earning potential of non-agrarian reform beneficiaries in small farming and fishing households registered in 20 priority provinces; raise their income and contribute to the attainment of food self-sufficiency; increase their access to sustainable credit; and broaden agricultural credit delivery system in the countryside and other financial services.
“We urge the [DA], through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council [ACPC], to maximize the use of this fund to benefit thousands of farmers and fisherfolk who need sources of funding,” Binay said.
The use of the fund will greatly help the agricultural sector, especially in achieving food security, he added.
The ACPC is an attached agency of the DA mandated to assist the department in synchronizing all credit policies and programs in support of the department’s priority programs; review and evaluate the economic soundness of all ongoing and proposed agricultural credit programs; receive all reports and documents of all programs with agricultural credit and financing components; and undertake measures of increasing its fund base and adopt other liquidity interest stabilization and risk cover mechanisms for its various financing programs in consultation with the Monetary Board.
The Commission on Audit (COA), in its 2014 audit findings, said the agency and its partners, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and People’s Credit and Finance Corp. (PCFC) has approved P421.64 million in loans, but only P106.5 million or only 10.7 percent of the fund has been released to small farmers and fisherfolk borrowers.
This, COA said, “is reflective of the program’s slow delivery that impacts on the timely attainment of its objectives.”
The state auditor urged the agency to coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to address the issues on the contents of Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) database.
The RSBSA is an electronic compilation of basic information on farmers, farm laborers and fishermen. It also includes the profile and additional information on the farmer, farm laborer and fisherman, farm parcel and fisheries.
Many farmers/fisherfolk were not in the RSBSA list or there were cases of discrepancy in the spelling of the other names, which disqualified some farmers and fisherfolk from the program, according to the ACPC.
“The prompt and speedy action of the DA and ACPC would significantly benefit our farmers and fisherfolk produce more food for Filipinos. The more food on the table, the healthier our citizens,” Binay said.
“We need to help the Filipino farmer and fisherfolk in every way we can. Under my administration, we will strengthen the agricultural sector, which can massively help address the lack of jobs and also ensure our food security,” he added.