To boost local rice production amid challenges faced by the rice industry, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has released P2.2 billion in loans to 13,701 rice farmers and cooperatives as of 31 July 2023 through the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF).
A total of P1.1 billion of the Bank’s loan releases under ERCA-RCEF directly financed palay production of individual rice farmers listed under the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), while P507.5 million was earmarked for relending of cooperatives to its rice farmer-members; P394.1 million for rice trading and milling; and P222 million for the purchase of farm machineries and equipment.
“LANDBANK is doing its share to strengthen local rice production by providing accessible and responsive financial assistance to rice farmers. In partnership with the DA, the ERCA-RCEF program forms part of our commitment to advance the agriculture sector and empower Filipino farmers,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Lynette V. Ortiz.
Of the 13,701 beneficiaries, 4,783 hailed from Region 2, particularly the rice-producing provinces of Cagayan, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.
LANDBANK also assisted 1,858 beneficiaries from Region 3; 1,463 from Region 6; 1,334 from Region 13; 1,323 from Region 4-B; and the rest from Regions 1, 4-A, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
“Malaki ang naitulong ng ERCA-RCEF sa aming pagsasaka dahil mababa ang interes nito kumpara sa ibang pautang. Sana ay magtuloy-tuloy pa ang Programang ito para marami pang magsasakang kagaya ko ang matulungan,” said Noemi C. Negrillo, a 68-year-old rice farmer from Quirino province who was able to purchase farm inputs and sustain her rice production through a loan under the ERCA-RCEF.
Implemented in partnership with the DA, the ERCA-RCEF is a credit facility which aims to boost the productivity and income of small rice farmers and their cooperatives, and cushion the initial impact of Republic Act No. 11203, also known as the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
LANDBANK has fully disbursed the allocated fund for ERCA-RCEF from 2019 to 2022, and shall continue to make available P500 million in loans annually until 2024 to cooperatives and rice farmers registered under the RSBSA in the country’s 38 rice-producing provinces.
The ERCA-RCEF Program allows individual rice farmers to borrow up to 90% of their total project cost at a low fixed interest rate of 2% per year.
The loan may be used to purchase farm inputs for rice and rice seed production, farm machineries and equipment for production and post-production, working capital for rice and seed trading, as well as relending and rediscounting of existing loans of small rice farmers listed under the DA’s RSBSA.