LAND BANK of the Philippines (LANDBANK) said one of its financing programs for farmers approved P17.8 billion worth of loans as of the end of October to 1,245 borrowers, against the year-earlier total of P17.4 billion to 1,220 borrowers.

The bank disclosed the lending totals for the Sulong Saka program in a statement released in conjunction with its sixth AgriSenso forum, which was staged virtually this year.

Sulong Saka is available to individual smallholder farmers, small and medium enterprises, cooperatives, farmer associations and organizations, large agribusiness enterprises and corporations, local government units, non-government organizations (NGOs), and countryside financial institutions.

The program supports the development of high-value crops, nurseries, budwood/mother plant/parent clone gardens, new plantations, and the replanting, rejuvenation and rehabilitation of old trees.

At the forum, LANDBANK Assistant Vice-President Edgardo S. Luzano discussed its other agriculture-focused financing program, the Rural Agro-enterprise Partnership for Inclusive Development and Growth (RAPID Growth) Credit Facility, which is available to cooperatives, farmers’ associations and organizations, NGOs, and micro, small and medium enterprises endorsed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in selected provinces of Regions VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

RAPID, offered in partnership with the DTI and supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, offers loans to develop new plantations; replant, rejuvenate, and rehabilitate old trees; establish nursery gardens; support post-harvest activities; and finance processing, manufacturing, packaging, storage, and trading activities. 

The bank said RAPID’s areas of focus are developing the agricultural value chains for cacao, coffee, coconut, and processed fruit and nuts.

The bank did not disclose loan totals for the RAPID program.

Gerald Glenn F. Panganiban, officer-in-charge director of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Plant Industry, also promoted at the forum technical assistance programs for banana, cacao, coffee, rubber and pineapple, while Mr. Luzano said planters of these crops may also avail of credit packages offered by the bank.

Mr. Panganiban said planters must overcome challenges like limited infrastructure and post-harvest facilities, high production costs, and limited access to quality planting materials.

He added that available support from the DA’s High-Value Crops Development Program includes the distribution of planting materials, machinery and equipment, facilities constructions, and capacity-building activities for farmers. 

The bank said some of its leading agricultural loan clients are Kennemer Foods International, Inc., the Goodyear Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which delivered presentations at the forum. — Aaron Michael C. Sy