More than P21 billion in loanable funds will be provided to farmers and fishermen yearly under the laws authored by Senator Cynthia Villar.
Money from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, and Sugarcane Industry Development Act, all managed by Land Bank, will provide the much-needed credit.
In acknowledging that access to cheap or subsidized credit is among the top requirements of Filipino farmers and fishermen to be more profitable and competitive, Villar gave priority to these matters in her legislation.
“Ever since, I have been focused on removing the barriers that keep farmers and fishermen from being more profitable. Among which is access to affordable credit and I am glad that the laws I have authored and sponsored are serving their purposes,” Villar said.
The head of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food was satisfied the bills she authored were providing much-need credit assistance on top of free inbred seeds, machineries/equipment, scholarships, livelihood assistance and training, among others, to farmers, fishermen and small cooperatives.
As of August 2020, the Land Bank of the Philippines reported that the outstanding loans to the agriculture sector reached P224.66 billion. This amount includes P20.86 billion in loans provided to cooperatives and farmers’ associations under the ACEFmand the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the RCEF and the Socialized Credit Program under SIDA.
RCEF also allocated P1 billion in credit to boost farmers’ productivity. ACEF earmarked P800 million or more depending on collections.
The SCP-SIDA is funded by 15 percent or about P300 million of the annual P2-billion fund allocated for the development of the sugar industry.
“We are thankful to LandBank for doing its job in boosting agricultural productivity in the country. We hope that they will be even more proactive in making the available funds more accessible to the intended beneficiaries. Previously, there were some delays on their part. We should avoid that especially during the pandemic when funds are urgently needed,” Villar said.
Studies show that agricultural credit is important in solving rural poverty and promoting countryside development.
“We have been encouraging farmers to run their farms as a business, so these available loans or credit facilities can help them with that. We also want to save them from falling prey to loan sharks who charge them exorbitant interests. So, government credit facilities or lending windows should really be accessible to them,” Villar said.