LANDBANK launches JICA-backed lending program to boost ARMM agri

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THE LAND BANK of the Philippines (LANDBANK) launched a P2.12-billion financing scheme in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and conflict-affected areas in Mindanao (CAAM) to boost the region’s agricultural sector.

The scheme, known as HARVEST (Harnessing Agribusiness opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of peaceful Transformation), is backed by official development assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The program provides concessional loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), entities providing plantation farm management services, large agribusiness enterprises, cooperatives, and participating financial institutions in ARMM and CAAM.

“Giving them access to finance will help sustain job creation and raise their productivity through equipment and training, while also boosting the region’s agro-industry sector,” JICA Philippines Senior Representative Yo Ebisawa said in a statement on Tuesday.

“By improving access to finance and stimulating economic activities, the cooperation aims to help create jobs, improve living standards, and contribute to peace building,” according to Mr. Ebisawa.

The launch follows the signing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in July, the LANDBANK said.

LANDBANK President and Chief Executive Officer Alex V. Buenaventura said that the financing scheme will drive growth in Mindanao.

“Through investment opportunities in agribusiness, we hope to help fuel growth in a region beleaguered by decades-old conflict and ultimately uplift the quality of life of our fellow Filipinos in these communities,” Mr. Buenaventura said.

Borrowers are entitled to technical assistance in the form of capacity-building training, seminars, and market linkage activities. JICA will also provide human resource training and technical assistance to LANDBANK, agricultural cooperatives, and other participating entities. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio