DA, NFA LOANS FOR RICE FARMERS STARTS IN SULTAN KUDARAT
Rice farmers who commit to sell their produce to the National Food Authority (NFA) could borrow up to P50,000 through the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Production Loan Easy Access Program which they could pay back after harvest at 3% interest without any collateral, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said
The Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), which handles the Easy Access Credit Program of the DA launched today the PLEA for Rice Farmers at the Southern Philippines Grains Center (SPGC) in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat with about 500 rice farmers expected to become the first beneficiaries of the program.
The PLEA for Rice Farmers is the latest variant of the DA’s Easy Access Credit Program aimed at providing farmers access to production loans which they traditionally get from traders and loan sharks at 10% interest per month.
Unlike the regular PLEA Program where the borrowers are required to be members of a cooperative or association, the PLEA program for Rice Farmers will be granted to both individual farmers and members of cooperatives or associations.
Pinol said farmers in Sultan Kudarat, along with South Cotabato, Maguindanao, Saranggani and parts of North Cotabato, have either finished harvesting or are now harvesting their palay after which they will prepare for the next planting season.
“Since many of them borrow their production expenses from traders at high interest rates, the bigger part of their income would go to the payment of loans leaving them with no choice but to again borrow money to finance their land preparation and planting,” he said.
Pinol said the PLEA for Rice Farmers is intended to free the rice farmers from the bondage and control of the traders and loan sharks who usually are also the buyers of their produce.
Governors Suharto Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat, Daisy Avance Fuentes of South Cotabato, Steve Solon of Saranggani, Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao and several local officials from North Cotabato are expected to join DA and NFA officials during the launching of the program which will have an initial loan fund of P200-M.
Farmers who will participate in the program will be documented by a team of IT experts from the Information and Communication Technology Service (ICTS) of the DA and basic information will be in-putted in a data base which will be backed up by satellite images and aerial photos by drones which will pinpoint exactly the location of the applicants’ farms.
Based on the data, the Computer Database Program will be able to project the expected harvested of the applicant which will serve as the basis in determining the amount of the loan to be granted.
Once, the applicant is validated, his loan will be immediately released in full through a local conduit bank to allow him to finance his farm operations.
At harvest time, the NFA will buy the farmers’ produce at P17 per kilo clean and dry with an incentive of P3.70 per kilo after which his loan will be deducted from his proceeds.
In addition to the government support price of P20.70 per kilo, a farmer who sells at least 40 bags of palay to the NFA will get a bonus of 1 bag of Inbred Seeds while for every 80 bags, he will get one bag of Hybrid Rice Seeds.
Associations and cooperatives who sell their produce to the NFA will also be given incentives like farm machinery and equipment.