DAVAO CITY — Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar has assured farmers that simplified loan access will soon be provided by government-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), with the terms of the new lending arrangements now being finalized.

“Rest assured that in the next three months we can smoothen everything,” Mr. Dar said at a news conference here Saturday.

The newly-installed head of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said he brought up the need to ease loan processing during a recent meeting of the LANDBANK board of directors, where he sits as a member.

Mr. Dar said farmers would be able to avail of a one-time loan of P15,000 per hectare, payable in eight years without interest.

He added that other and bigger loan packages would also be made available.

LANDBANK President Cecilia C. Borromeo last month said the bank is aiming to expand loans to the agricultural sector by at least 20%.

Mr. Dar also said that the DA is continuing to seek amendments to the Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act, which requires all banks to allocate 15% of their loan portfolio to the agricultural sector and another 10% for agrarian reform beneficiaries.

“There could be other schemes that will encourage commercial banks to lend to the sector,” Mr. Dar said.

He cited as an example agriculture-related infrastructure, such as farm-to-market roads, which could be included as a loan destination compliant with the law’s requirements.

Mr. Dar said he has also met with the Philippine Guarantee Corp. to “increase the guarantee fund (for agriculture) and to make agricultural credit affordable and accessible.” — Carmelito Q. Francisco