By Carmelito Q. Francisco

DAVAO CITY — Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) is extending a P30-million loan facility to BCS Credit Cooperative to help expand its financing program to its members, particularly the small farmers and microentrepreneurs.

Christian Harvey N. Wong, LANDBANK’s Davao Lending Center account officer, said they recently signed the contract with the Davao del Sur-based cooperative that has 17 branches within the regions of Davao and SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City).

“Meaning, the existing loans of the cooperative’s members may be replenished by the bank to allow the cooperative to maintain its liquidity, therefore, enable them to accommodate more loans from small farmers and microentrepreneurs,” Mr. Wong told BusinessWorld in an online interview.

Rolando B. Abadia, chair of BCS Credit Cooperative, said they are aiming to have about 50% of their 55,000 members avail of the fresh fund.

“We will be able to help our members who are into farming and livestock-raising by providing them funding to ensure that they can expand their farms as well as have fund for fertilizers and other farm implements,” he said in a telephone interview with BusinessWorld.

Mr. Abadia, also the chair of the Provincial Credit Union, said they expect to have the P30-million credit line to be distributed within three months.

The cooperative also assists its farmer members in marketing their goods, including rice, banana, and other high-value crops like cacao.

“The good thing is that we have planned how we can also market the produce at higher prices,” he said.

Aside from various loans, BCS Credit Cooperative also offers savings programs, insurance, and financial management packages for overseas Filipino workers and their families.

Mr. Wong said the organization has a capacity to borrow about P2 billion based on LANDBANK’s assessment.

“Per our lending guidelines, they can borrow up to P2 billion as their computed net borrowing capacity. Maybe in the future, when the cooperative so desires, they can borrow as much as P2 billion,” he said.

The cooperative, formally organized in 2002, became a LANDBANK client six years ago.

“(S)ince last year, I have been luring them for us to finance their lending to agri-related undertakings and activities, which is our mandate,” Mr. Wong said.