THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has approved P246.3 million worth of loans under its expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program (SURE Aid) to help the farming sector recover from the effects of the pandemic and the resulting quarantine

SURE Aid, tapped in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mitigation effort, has helped support 7,349 small, marginal farmers and fishermen across 11 regions, according to Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola said.

The small farmers and fishermen received a total of P183.8 million worth of approved loans.

The remaining P62.5 million was lent to nine micro and small enterprises (MSEs) engaged in agriculture and fisheries production.

The SURE Aid COVID-19 loan program is funded by the so-called Plant, Plant, Plant program, which has a budget of P31 billion, and is designed to ensure broader food security.

In a statement Friday, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said agri-fishery MSEs and small farmers and fishermen recover from their losses, adding that they play a crucial role in ensuring the availability of food in urban centers.

“We are allotting a total of P2.5 billion for this new ACPC credit program aimed at helping MSEs and small, marginal farmers and fishers adversely affected by the enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Dar said.

Eligible farmers and fishermen may borrow up to P25,000 with zero interest, no collateral, and payable in 10 years.

Eligible MSEs may borrow up to P10 million with zero interest, payable over five years. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave