The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) booked P230.02-billion in loans to the agriculture sector in the five months to May, with the bank expanding its support for the sector during the pandemic as the government’s funding conduit for farmers.

Citing reports from LANDBANK, the Finance department said the bank’s farm loans during the period were only slightly higher than the four-month tally of P229.29 billion.

The five-month tally accounted for 81.6% of its P281.75-billion target for the sector this year.

About P145.85 billion went to small, medium and large agribusinesses. It said P34.79 billion went to 2.73 million farmers and fisherfolk while P33.55 billion went to cooperatives and farmers’ associations.

Some P49.38 billion went to agriculture-related projects of local government units (LGUs) and state-run firms.

Loans to build cold storage facilities, irrigation systems, slaughterhouses, farm-to-market roads and other farm infrastructure projects accounted for P90.27 billion.

Funding support for agri-processing and trading activities came up to P85.13 billion. Livestock accounted for P35.46 billion, crops P17.2 billion and fisheries P2 billion.

LANDBANK provided P9.42 billion for farmer-related programs of the Agriculture department via credit lines to support the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, the Socialized Credit Program under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act, the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance program and the Survival and Recovery Assistance program.

To the Department of Agrarian Reform, LANDBANK extended P63 million in credit to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

LANDBANK mainly provides loans to the agriculture and fisheries sector, micro, small and medium businesses, countryside financial institutions, LGUs, and government institutions.

Republic Act 10000 or the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009 requires banks to set aside 15% of their loanable funds to the agriculture sector and 10% for agrarian reform-related projects. – Beatrice M. Laforga