By James Konstantin Galvez Reporter
State-run Land Bank of the Philippines said on Wednesday that its loan portfolio grew by more than a tenth in the first quarter of the year, as it further strengthen its support to its mandated and priority sectors.
Gilda Pico, LandBank president and chief executive, said that the bank’s loan portfolio increased by 13 percent to P274 billion in January-March 2013, from the P243 billion recorded the same period a year ago.
Pico attributed the increase to the growth of loans to its mandated and priority sectors, which comprised 76.3 percent of LandBank’s total loan portfolio.
“We are more committed than ever to build on gains made as we further intensify our support to farmers, fisherfolk and our other priority sectors in pursuit of our countryside development mandate,” she said.
Loans to the priority sectors, including small farmers and fisherfolk, microenterprises and small and medium enterprises, expanded to P209.1 billion, 18 percent higher than the P176.7 billion of the same period last year.
In the first quarter this year, loan releases to small farmers and fisherfolk amounted to P7.7 billion, 6 percent higher than the P7.3 billion of last year. These loans were channeled through 477 farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives, and 151 countryside financial institutions and 55 irrigators’ associations.
The number of small farmers and fisherfolk who benefited from the loans also increased by 20 percent to 160,990 from 134,707 in January-March 2012.
By agricultural activity, loans for crop production reached P2.8 billion from January to March, while loans for livestock projects reached P740.7 million. Other economic activities financed by LandBank include agri-processing, livelihood, fishery and trading.
Regions with the highest loan releases to small farmers and fisher folk for the first quarter are Central Visayas with P1.6 billion, Central Luzon with P1.5 billion followed by Southern Mindanao with P1.1 billion.
Outstanding loans for agri-business, aqua-business and agri-aqua-related projects of local government units and government-owned and -controlled corporations stood at P66.6 billion while loans to mi cro en terprises and SMEs reached P32.8 billion, 30 percent higher than the year-ago level of P25.2 billion.
A total of P81.6 billion was, in turn, lent to finance socialized, low-cost and medium-cost housing; education; healthcare; tourism; transportation and environment-related projects.