WESTERN Visayas has the highest exposure in the financing facilities of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), said regional executive director Remelyn R. Recoter.
The region has a total approved allocation of P361 million.
ACPC has released a total of P304 million, or 84 percent of the fund to 21 accredited Loan Conduits (LCs). About P214 million were already disbursed as of March 20, 2019 to 6,263 small farmers and fishers.
Instead of borrowing [capitals] from traders and private individuals, small farmers can borrow funds from ACPC through eligible lending conduits without collateral and with only six percent interest rate per annum, Recoter explained.
Iloilo has seven lending conduits with P103 million allocation. Cooperatives in Iloilo have already disbursed P73.71 million to 1,966 farmer-borrowers, Beith Gerardo of ACPC reported.
For Negros Occidental, ACPC tapped four non-government organizations and coops as conduits. The province has an approved loan allocation of P95 million fund of which P85 million were already released. Then, P35.66 million fund from conduits were disbursed to 1,342 farmers and fisherfolk.
Meanwhile, Aklan obtained P45 million loan fund. The five lending conduits, however, were able to disburse P48.36 million to 1,202 borrowers because of fast repayment.
Antique, on the other hand, has P103 million budget and P57.06 million were already disbursed to 1,753 farmers.
Moreover, P5 million loan fund is set to be released to Capiz province and P10 million to Guimaras.
We have ongoing assessment and validation of additional lending conduits. There are 13 more conduits to come in Iloilo; Capiz-8; Negros Occidental 5; Guimaras- 1; and Aklan 2, Gerardo added.
ACPC had convened with the DA regional executive directors and regional agricultural credit desk officers from all over the country in a workshop recently held in Malay, Aklan.
ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Badiola said, during the last internal budget hearing of DA, there had been many and varying concerns about the implementation of our programs. We thought of discussing it with the regional directors so we can immediately address the issues and improve the implementation of our programs. It would mean, we are able to make a difference and help the small farmers and fisherfolk.
The lack of eligible lending conduits in many areas which are capable of handling funds to be loaned to farmers is the main concern of the regional offices.
When we transfer funds, we have to make sure that the association is capable of handling the money madaming areas na ganun ang problema, she remarked.
With that, the ACPC will conduct financial literacy, creditworthiness and institutional building capacity seminars for farmer beneficiaries and lending conduits prior to the releasing of funds.
Among the credit programs of DA-ACPC is the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) which was launched in July 2016. Small farmers and fisherfolk can avail up to P50,000 loan with only six percent interest rate every year and it does not require any loan collateral. It is also packed with free crop insurance.
We have already disbursed P1.6 billion to our lending conduits, and P1.3 billion of it were already disbursed to about 40,000 farmers and fisherfolk nationwide, Badiola cited.
PLEA program had a 98 percent repayment rate nationwide as of September 2018, however, it dropped to 91 percent due to the natural calamities which occurred in the last quarter of the year.
We created a task force to visit those who are affected. Tutulungan sila. Siguro i-extend ang loan maturity para hindi naman masyadong mabigat, she added.
Aside from PLEA, ACPC also offers Capital Loan Easy Access wherein farmers associations and cooperatives can borrow up to P5 million with six percent interest rate per annum. By submitting a simple business plan, qualified groups can access loan to fund their marketing-related activities and initiatives.
This 2019, DA-ACPC has P2.5 billion budget from the General Appropriations Act.
We still have about P2 billion from our collection, so this year, we have a total of P4.5 billion fund.Our [credit] programs are for all small farmers, hindi po sa mayayaman na farmers, she emphasized.
Farmers and fisherfolk in Region 6 are advised to visit the DA office at Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center in Jaro, Iloilo City and to coordinate with credit desk officer, Maria Teresa Solis. (S. M. H. Toreno/DA-RAFIS-6)