THE Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to move away from a subsidy system as more easy-access financing becomes available, with the department planning to help farmers and fisherfolk tap low-cost loan facilities.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the organizational requirements for implementing the scheme include provincial loan facilitation teams to assist borrowers.
“We don’t want to experience a situation were there are enough funds but it’s hard for the farmers and the fisherfolk to access them because they were not assisted,” he added.
“This time around, we will train them on financial literacy, we will assist them in their loan documents and I want to set things up so that the farmer will just head to the [provincial facilitation office] and sign the document.”
The initial projects being lined up for loan financing include 20 ice plants for fishing cooperatives.
Mr. Piñol said a potential supplier has estimated that each ice plant would cost P4 million, and the proposed arrangement involves the DA “identifying the cooperatives for them. So the fishermen’s cooperatives will apply for a loan from us to fund the building of their facilities and equipment,” he added.
Spoilage due to lack of cold storage facilities is estimated by the DA to affect up to 40% of the catch landed by fishing communities.
Among the facilities available for tapping are the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund loan program which charges 2% interest.
The Land Bank of the Philippines, which controls the fund, has P4 billion available to lend to farmers and fisherfolk.
The program can lend up to P1 million per individual and P5 million for associations and cooperatives. — Anna Gabriela A. Mogato