The Department of Agriculture (DA), through its Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), and the Land Bank of the Philippines have signed a memorandum of agreement for a national program that allows P1.5 billion worth of loans for the country’s rice farmers.
In a statement on Thursday, the DA said the two parties have formally inked the deal for the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid Program), which aims to assist the rice farmers whose incomes were affected by the drop in the farmgate price of palay (unmilled rice).
Under the program, which shall commence on September 1, the DA-ACPC will provide a one-time loan assistance of P15,000 to rice farmers who are farming one hectare and below at 0-percent interest rate payable in eight years.
LandBank will administer the P1.5-billion fund, while tapping DA-accredited service conduits to disburse loans to eligible beneficiaries, especially in unbanked and unserved areas.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the program servded as a “very affordable” financial assistance for the small rice farmers as they just need to set aside P1,875 per year to pay off their loan.
He said programs involving credit were a very important strategy to boost growth and development in agriculture.
“Credit must be affordable, accessible and the ease of doing business will be our principle in terms of simplifying the process for the common farmer,” Dar said.
The program is in addition to the ones mandated under the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the annual P10-billion fund established under the Rice Tariffication Law.
For her part, LandBank President Cecile Borromeo said the lender was fully on board to support the farmers and fishers.
The DA was represented by Dar and ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma Badiola, while LandBank was represented by Borromeo and First Vice President for Lending Program Management Group Emellie Tamayo during the deal-signing.