The Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), turned over to the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) P1 billion as additional funding for emergency loans to small farmers and fisherfolk.
In a virtual ceremony held on December 15, 2020, Agriculture Secretary and DA-ACPC Chair William Dar turned over to LANDBANK, represented by its President and CEO Cecilia Borromeo, the new funds for the Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project or SURE COVID-19, which is funded under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Republic Act 11494.
The SURE COVID-19 loan window is part of the DA’s Plant, Plant, Plant Program or the Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19 Program that aims to increase the country’s food adequacy level.
An initial P2.5 billion was allotted for the program to help micro and small enterprises (MSMEs) and small farmers and fishers adversely affected by the quarantine lockdown imposed by the government to help stem the spread of the pandemic. This amount has been fully released and supported over 535,000 farmers during the initial and most crucial months of the crisis.
“This is our way of helping agri-fishery MSEs and small farmers and fishers recover from their losses, as they play a crucial role in ensuring the availability of food supply in Metro Manila and other urban centers,” said Secretary Dar, noting that this will help further ensure unhampered food production and supply.
For her part, President Borromeo said: “We welcome this opportunity to distribute timely, responsive, and non-interest-bearing financing for small farmers and fishers whose sources of livelihood and income are adversely affected by the ongoing pandemic.”
LANDBANK said the new funds can aid about 40,000 eligible beneficiaries nationwide that will be endorsed by the DA-ACPC and DA Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs) to LANDBANK’s lending centers.
Under the SURE COVID-19 loan program, eligible small farmers and fishers may borrow up to P25,000, with no collateral, zero interest, and payable in 10 years.
The loan is available to small farmers and fishers whose sources of livelihoods and incomes are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic for their emergency and production requirements.
As of end-November, LANDBANK said its cumulative loan releases for the agriculture sector amounted to P7.76 billion, benefitting over 228,000 farmers.
Secretary Dar pointed out that the objective of the SURE COVID-19 program, along with other economic recovery programs being extended by the department, is to “make sure that we have enough food during the pandemic, and in order to survive and reboot Philippine agriculture.”
“We will continue what we have started because it is our moral obligation to provide food for all Filipinos, and we do this by helping our front-liners, our countryside heroes — our farmers and fisherfolk,” he concluded. ### (DA StratComms)