Gov’t loan for farmers faces backlash

A farmer and his family dry their previous palay grains in Iloilo province. (Ednalyn Belonio-Diamante)

By: Ednalyn Belonio-Diamante

THE government’s loan assistance for farmers under its Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program or SURE Aid faces backlash as not all farmers can actually avail of the loan.

It was reported that the government through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Land Bank of the Philippines will provide P15,000 loan assistance to farmer beneficiaries at zero percent interest.

The loan is payable within eight years.

However, agricultural technologist Elmer Talon said only 1,296 farmers in the entire province of Iloilo can avail of the P15,000 grant.

“We have 42 municipalities and one component city, so we arrived at the conclusion that per barangay will only have two recipients,” Talon explained.

He made the announcement in a recent farmers’ organization meeting held recently in several barangays in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.

Talon clarified that only a farmer tilling farms one hectare and below can avail of the loan.

Furthermore, the beneficiaries must be an active member of a farmers’ organization and a qualified member of Rice System for Basic Sectors for Agriculture (RSBCA) as surveyed by the National Statistics Office (NSO).

The selection of the recipients was picked via draw lots.

The pronouncement was met with disappointment by several farmers.

“We are very excited hoping to avail of the P15,000 loan assistance but only to be disappointed at the end,” said Arnel Apitong.

The loan assistance was granted to farmers following the drop of palay farmgate prices due to the passage of the Rice Tariffication Law.

The DA has allocated P1.5 billion under the Land Bank of the Philippines – Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) for the said program.