THE Department of Agriculture (DA) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) signed a memorandum of agreement to extend credit to rice farmers under the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance program, which is known as SURE Aid.

“Credit is such as very important strategy to make it possible to develop and grow Philippine 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,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar was quoted saying in a statement.

The SURE Aid program targets rice farmers affected by the drop of palay farmgate prices. The program allows a one-time zero-interest loan of P15,000 for farmers tilling one hectare and below. The loans will be available on Sept. 1.

Payable over eight years, the loan entails payments of P1,875 annually.

LANDBANK will administer the P1.5 billion fund for the DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC). DA-accredited service channels will also be tapped by the bank to disburse loans to eligible beneficiaries, particularly the unbanked.

The National Food Authority (NFA) will also buy the produce of the farmers who availed of the loan.

“LANDBANK is fully on board to work with you in making great things happen for our farmers and fishers,” LANDBANK President Cecilia C. Borromeo said.

After the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law on March 2019, domestic farmgate prices have dropped due to competition from cheaper imported rice. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang