THE Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has granted P209.3 million in credit to two rice farmer cooperatives in Bohol province.

The P200-million and P9.3-million grants to the Bohol Bayanihan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BBMPC) and the Bohol Community Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BCMPC), respectively, would be used for working capital, processing, storage and other logistical needs, DBP pointed out in a statement on Friday.

Under the agreement, it said the P200-million loan would be used by BBMPC for working capital for palay (unmilled rice) procurement, storage, drying, milling and packaging; transportation and equipment acquisition; rice processing complex repair; and relending to small rice farmers enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture.

Paul Lazaro, DBP executive vice president for development lending, said the loan to BBMPC would allow the cooperative to handle at least 20 percent of the palay production buyback mechanism, which was previously handled by the local government of Bohol province, while the loan to BCMPC would be used for the construction of a warehouse, transportation acquisition and permanent working capital in the selling of milled rice.

This collaboration with BBMPC and BCMPC, Lazaro added, will allow Bohol to focus on other aspects of its Advanced Rice Technology (ART) program, such as the adoption of innovative rice technology, to boost production and boost Bohol rice farmers' worldwide competitiveness.

DBP said the ART program in Bohol province aims to achieve the planting and harvesting of high-yielding rice varieties, both from hybrid and certified seeds, as well as the direct purchase of palay at a price higher than market prices, in order to help rice farmers increase their income.

The credit assistance is part of DBP's ongoing support for the national government's effort to increase the productivity and operational efficiency of the key food staple's growers, the bank noted.