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Rubber tree farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay ‘bounce back’ during the pandemic

Goodyear Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (GARBEMCO) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) have been partners for rubber production in Zamboanga Sibugay since 1995, which helped sustain the co-op’s operations despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, through business diversification. KABASALAN, Zamboanga Sibugay – For the past 28 years, Goodyear Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (GARBEMCO) has relied mainly on their 1000-hectare rubber and intercropped plantation to generate income for their 312 members who are Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs). But the COVID-19 crisis early this year dealt their rubber trading business with a heavy blow. “GARBEMCO’s rubber trading halted during the pandemic. There were no traders, and manufacturing plants stopped operating. So the co-op had to focus on its other businesses to ensure income for its members,” said LANDBANK Zamboanga del Sur Lending Center Head Engr. Joselito S. Año. Determined to stay afloat, the co-op turned to palay production and trading, and the operation of their consumer store and fishpond, among other businesses, which it already established early on through financial assistance from Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK). “Ang inspirasyon talaga namin para magpatuloy sa operasyon kahit na may pandemic ay yung aming pamilya at yung pamilyang nabuo namin sa co-op. Kaya nag-bayanihan talaga kami para lang masigurado na tuloy ang pinagkakakitaan at kabuhayan ng mga miyembro namin,” said GARBEMCO General Manager Lilia Manuel. LANDBANK and GARBEMCO’s partnership started in 1995 when the co-op availed of the Bank’s Agricultural Production Loan (APL) and Short Term Loan (STL) for the capital of their rubber production, and later on used it to diversify its businesses. “Ang laking tulong ng LANDBANK sa paglaki ng GARBEMCO. At marami pa kaming mga proyekto sa coop na gusto namin i-develop sa tulong pa rin ng LANDBANK, gaya ng agri-tourism through a hot spring resort,” GM Manuel added. With the relaxing quarantine restrictions in the province, GARBEMCO is now starting to engage anew in rubber trading. The harvests that they stored in their warehouse for the last 5 months, totaling to some 350 tons of rubber, are gradually becoming profitable again for their ARB members. LANDBANK remains steadfast in providing accessible financial channels to ARBs. As of June 2020, cumulative loan releases of two lending programs for ARBs and small farmers have already reached P583.35 million, under the Bank’s E-ARISE-ARBs (Expanded Assistance to Restore and Install Sustainable Enterprises for Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries and Small Farm Holders) loan program, and the CAP-PBD (Credit Assistance Program for Program Beneficiaries Development) Window III Program Extension. For more information about LANDBANK’s Lending Programs, interested borrowers may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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LANDBANK extends P11.93B loans to high-value crops farmers, players

As part of its aggressive drive to deliver intensified support to the country’s agriculture sector, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has released a total of P11.93 billion in loans under the Sulong Saka Program or High-Value Crops Financing as of July 31, 2020. A significant portion, or P3.45 billion of these loans were released to support projects in the production of oil palm, followed by projects financed in the production of banana and other fruits, with corresponding P1.88 billion and P1.35 billion loan releases, respectively. A total of 992 borrowers from 72 provinces across the country have availed of the Program. Of these borrowers, 421 are Small Farmers and Fishers (SFFs), 302 are cooperatives, 183 are Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and the remaining 86 are Countryside Financial Institutions (CFIs), Large Agribusiness Enterprises (LAEs)/corporations, associations, Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), Local Government Units (LGUs), Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC), and Financial Institutions (FIs).  The LANDBANK Sulong Saka Program, which was launched in December last year, was designed to promote wider crop diversification, particularly for high-value crops such as banana, cacao, cassava, coffee, oil palm, rubber, and vegetables, among others. “Crop diversity is essential to attain local food security, especially during this health crisis. Through the LANDBANK Sulong Saka Program, we see that more and more farmers are being encouraged to engage in the production of high-value commodities, helping the country attain food security,” LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said. Aside from promoting crop production, the Program also supports projects that involve the processing and marketing of high-value crops. Eligible borrowers can apply for the establishment of nursery, budwood or mother and plant or parent clone gardens; new plantation, replanting, rejuvenation, and rehabilitation of old trees; post-harvest activities, and processing or manufacturing; as well as trading and export activities. Under the Sulong Saka Program, small farm holders may apply for loans with an affordable interest rate of 5% per annum. For other eligible borrowers, however, interest is based on prevailing market benchmark rate. Production loans under the Program are payable based on crop cycle or gestation and payback period of the project. Meanwhile, tenor for fixed asset acquisition is based on project cash flow but not more than the economic useful life of fixed assets or remaining useful life for second hand or refurbished machines. For permanent working capital and working capital, tenor of up to three (3) years and one (1) year, respectively, is provided. Interested borrowers of the LANDBANK Sulong Saka Program may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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Philippine Army lauds LANDBANK for its online account opening system

Philippine Army personnel from Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac show-off their new LANDBANK Visa Debit Cards acquired through the LANDBANK Digital Onboarding System (DOBS)—an online account opening platform that reduces the account opening time and simplifies the account enrolment process for the Bank’s clients. For its efficient online account opening through the Digital Onboarding System (DOBS), state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) has received a commendation from the Philippine Army (PA) for making it easier for new clients like Army recruits to open payroll accounts online. In a letter addressed to LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo, PA Finance Center Director Col. Seigfred C. Tubalado expressed his gratitude to the Bank as DOBS has allowed their new enlisted personnel to conveniently open LANDBANK ATM payroll accounts. “We are elated to have benefitted from the DOBS. This is a welcome development as the system complements with the Finance Center Philippine Army’s commitment to continually provide effective and efficient financial services for the Philippine Army,” said Col. Tublado in his letter. Launched in 2019, the LANDBANK DOBS is a pioneering web application among Philippine banks that reduces the account opening time from 30-45 minutes to only 10 minutes turnaround time. It effectively simplifies the account enrolment process for individuals and institutional clients, both private and government. “The timely acquisition of an ATM payroll account card prior to deployment in the field has been crucial to our soldier’s sense of well-being, and has helped many to focus on the accomplishments of the mission,” Col. Tublado added. The Philippine Army is among the various government agencies that have utilized the DOBS for its hassle-free features, with a total of 1,717 payroll accounts opened through the online system for new Army recruits attending pre-entry courses at the PA’s Armor School, Armor Division stationed at Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. “This commendation is a proof that LANDBANK is on the right track in providing more accessible services for our stakeholders. As we adapt to the changing landscape of the banking industry, we will continue to improve and digitize our systems to deliver a more delightful banking experience to our clients,” President Borromeo said. Even with just a year of implementation, the DOBS has already recorded a total of 988,711 accounts opened as of end-August 2020. This milestone led to the addition of a new feature which now allows existing DOBS account holders to update their information through the system. Opening an account through the DOBS also provides automatic enrollment to the LANDBANK iAccess, the Bank’s internet banking system, that aims to decongest client visits in its branches, especially during the pandemic. This automatic enrollment also allows clients to enjoy the full features of the LANDBANK Mobile App for convenient banking transactions through their smartphones, and the LANDBANK Link.BizPortal for payment of products and services to the enrolled merchants in the system.             For this banking innovation, LANDBANK has been recognized as “Asia’s Most Inclusive Bank” by the Financial Insights Innovation Awards 2019, and was conferred as “Digital Trailblazer in Financial Services” by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Access the DOBS through the LANDBANK’s official website (www.landbank.com) or through the Digital Corner of selected LANDBANK branches dedicated for walk-in clients who wish to access the system. For more information about LANDBANK’s DOBS, clients may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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LANDBANK P3-B loan facility seeks to ‘rescue’ bus operators

Bus operators in need of capital to modernize their fleet may avail of a new lending program being offered by the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) The state-owned bank has initially earmarked P3 billion for its I-RESCUE for BUS Transport (Interim REhabilitation Support to Cushion Unfavorably-affected Enterprises by Covid-19 for Better Urban Services Transport) Lending Program. This targets public transport cooperatives and corporations for the purchase of modern public utility buses, in support of the Metro Manila Bus Modernization Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). “The I-RESCUE for BUS Transport Lending Program offers responsive financing to PUB operators to invest in new buses equipped with the latest innovative technology. This also forms part of LANDBANK’s support to the DOTr and LTFRB towards building a modernized transport system that provides commuters with safe, reliable, and convenient transportation services,” LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said. Qualified enterprises may borrow up to eighty percent (80%) of the acquisition cost of the PUB, at an affordable fixed interest rate of 5% per annum for the first three (3) years—payable up to a maximum of seven (7) years, inclusive of the two-year grace period on principal. The DOTr launched the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program in 2017, with the goal of making the country's public transportation system efficient and environmentally friendly. The program calls for the phasing out not just buses but also jeepneys and other public utility vehicles that are at least 15 years old and replacing them with safer, more comfortable, and more environmentally-friendly alternatives LANDBANK will make available the I-RESCUE for BUS Transport Lending Program until December 31, 2021. Interested borrowers may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000. For more updates, please Follow, Like and Share the official LANDBANK Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts (@landbankofficial), Twitter (@LBP_Official), or visit the LANDBANK website (www.landbank.com).

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LANDBANK assures coconut and coffee stakeholders of credit support

In celebration of National Coconut Month and the 34th National Coconut Week from August 24 to 30, 2020, state-run Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) assured stakeholders of the coconut and coffee industries of the Bank’s available credit facilities designed to help improve their operations and income. On the last day of the five-day webinar series, “Coco-Kwentuhan sa Negosyo,” organized by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines, Inc. (CAMP) last August 28, LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said the Bank stands ready to support coconut and coffee stakeholders through its existing lending programs with low interest rates. Under the Coconut Production and Processing Financing (Coco-Financing) Program, LANDBANK is extending credit assistance to coconut farmers and other industry stakeholders engaged in the production and processing of coconut-based products. The Bank is also providing credit support to stakeholders involved in the production of high-value crops like coffee, as well as abaca, banana, cacao, rubber, and vegetables, through the Sulong Saka Program or High Value Crops Financing Program. Aside from promoting crop production, the Program also supports projects that involve the processing and marketing of high value commodities. The LANDBANK Coco-Financing Program and Sulong Saka Program are open to individual small farm holders, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), cooperatives and farmers’ association, large agribusiness enterprises/corporations, Local Government Units (LGUs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), and Countryside Financial Institutions (CFIs). Eligible borrowers may apply for a loan under these programs with an affordable interest based on prevailing market benchmark rate. For smallholder farmer, interest rate of 5% per annum to fund coconut and coffee production, including new plantation, replanting, rejuvenation and rehabilitation; establishment of nursery gardens; post-harvest activities such as fermentation, drying, roasting, grinding/packaging and storage; processing/milling; and manufacturing and trading. Production loans under the Coco-Financing Program and Sulong Saka Program are payable based on crop cycle/gestation and payback period of the project. Meanwhile, tenor for fixed asset acquisition is based on project cash flow but not more than the economic useful life of fixed assets or remaining useful life for second hand/refurbished machines. For permanent working capital and working capital, tenor of up to three (3) years and one (1) year, respectively, is provided. President Borromeo also expressed support for the establishment of coconut-based farming systems, and the adoption of coconut-coffee intercropping to help coconut farmers become more profitable. As explained by National Scientist and CAMP Chairman Dr. Emil Q. Javier during the webinar, coconut-based farming system is the practice of growing other high-value crops, such as coffee, cacao, bananas, papaya, pineapple and vegetables, under the coconuts. Considering the increasing demand for coffee in the country, he said that intercropping of coffee with coconut trees will help farmers generate more income. “We fully agree that a coconut-based farming system will increase productivity and farmers’ income, and promote value-adding operation. We also support promoting the adoption of coconut-coffee intercrop. Aside from the technical requirement for shade to young coffee plants, this production model will lead to increased land productivity and farmers’ income,” President Borromeo said. Interested borrowers of the LANDBANK Coco-Financing Program and Sulong Saka Program may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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LANDBANK opens branch in Bolinao

Bolinao Mayor Alfonso Celeste (center) and LANDBANK North Luzon Branches Group FVP Ma. Belma T. Turla (2nd from right) lead the official inauguration of the new LANDBANK Bolinao Branch. Joining them are (from L-R) Bolinao Police Chief Major Dennis Cabigat, LANDBANK Bolinao Branch Head Johnny Lim and LANDBANK Alaminos Branch Head Roehl Bautista. BOLINAO, Pangasinan – The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) officially inaugurated on August 28, 2020 its newest branch in Bolinao, Pangasinan amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The government bank now has 410 branches and extension offices nationwide. The LANDBANK Bolinao Branch will provide banking services and credit assistance to both the first-class Municipality of Bolinao and the third-class Municipality of Anda, covering a total of 48 barangays.  “The LANDBANK Bolinao Branch provides another accessible and safe banking touchpoint for our clients and priority sectors in the province of Pangasinan. We remain focused and determined to bring our services closer to more farmers and fishers in the countryside and support local recovery and development efforts during these challenging times,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. Bolinao Mayor Alfonso Celeste and LANDBANK North Luzon Branches Group Head First Vice President Ma. Belma T. Turla were present during the Bolinao Branch inauguration rites. They were joined by Bolinao Chief of Police Major Dennis Cabigat, LANDBANK Bolinao Branch Head Johnny Lim and LANDBANK Alaminos Branch Head Roehl Bautista. “As a small municipality, we are very thankful for the historic opening of LANDBANK here in Bolinao to help finance our development projects. Banking will also be more convenient for us in the LGU, including our CCT beneficiaries and pensioners, because we would no longer have to go to Alaminos for our transactions,” Bolinao Mayor Celeste said. “Despite the current pandemic besetting our country, LANDBANK remains steadfast in providing timely and responsive financial support services to Filipinos, especially to the unbanked and underserved sectors. The opening of the LANDBANK Bolinao Branch today is a testament to this unwavering commitment,” FVP Turla said. With two (2) onsite Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), the new branch will also help facilitate cash assistance payouts under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) poverty alleviation programs The newest LANDBANK branch is expected to serve a total of 7,253 rice and corn farmers, 6,337 beneficiaries under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program and 2,257 beneficiaries under the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Program in Bolinao and Anda. LANDBANK operates a total of 13 branches in Pangasinan, with the Bolinao Branch complementing operations in Alaminos, Binalonan, Calasiao, Carmen, Dagupan, Lingayen, Mangaldan, Mangatarem, San Carlos, Tayug, Umingan, and Urdaneta. For more updates, please Follow, Like and Share the official LANDBANK Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts (@landbankofficial), Twitter (@LBP_Official), or visit the LANDBANK website (www.landbank.com).

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LANDBANK loan releases to agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers reach P583.35M

Cumulative loan releases of two lending programs to support the country’s agrarian reform beneficiaries and small farmers as of the first half of the year has reached P583.35 million, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) announced. About P12.05 million in fund assistance was released under LANDBANK’s expanded E-ARISE-ARBs (Expanded Assistance to Restore and Install Sustainable Enterprises for Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries and Small Farm Holders) loan program that targets beneficiaries and small farmers whose livelihood were adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as pest and diseases. Prior to the program relaunch, this credit facility was only available to agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations (ARBO) whose members were affected by natural calamities and disasters. LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo said the program revamp was made in line with the national government’s aggressive drive to support ARBs and small farm holders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the expanded credit assistance will provide ARB cooperatives and farmers’ associations and small farm holder members greater access to credit. As of June 30, 2020 a total of 928 beneficiaries through 12 ARBOs have availed of this loan facility. Eligible ARBOs can avail of the loan to finance agro-enterprise/livelihood projects and for providential purposes (i.e., house repairs for members and office repairs for ARBOs) at interest rates of 3% per annum and 0%, respectively. In turn, ARBOs are allowed to relend the fund to members at 6% per annum and 3% per annum, respectively. The loans can be paid up to three (3) years, depending on the project/household cash flow. Another loan facility offered by LANDBANK and DAR, the CAP-PBD (Credit Assistance Program for Program Beneficiaries Development) Window III Program Extension, has released P571.3 million in loans as of end-June 2020 and benefited 6,854 beneficiaries through 112 ARBOs. CAP-PBD, which has been extended for another year or until March 15, 2021, aims to address the financing requirements of newly-accessing ARBOs and the existing CAP-PBD borrowers for agricultural production and other livelihood/agri-enterprise projects. The CAP-PBD Window III Program Extension was designed as a flexible credit facility for ARBOs that are not yet qualified to borrow under the regular lending window of LANDBANK. The ARBOs may use the loan as additional working capital for on-lending to their ARB-members, and/or to finance ARBO-managed projects. Under the Program, eligible ARBOs may borrow an amount equivalent to up to 80% of the total project cost, but not to exceed P5 million, at an affordable interest rate of six percent (6%) per annum, payable up to two years based on the crop cycle/project cash flow. “We will continue to work hand in hand with DAR, as well as other government agencies, to ensure that ARBOs have enough funds to lend to their members, and help them get through this health and economic crisis,” Borromeo said. Interested ARBOs may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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LANDBANK helps small farmers’ cooperative in remote sitio grow

San Miguel Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SAMMUCO) Board of Directors and Management Team led by General Manager Rev. Ariel M. Gonzales (3rd from right). The cooperative’s services include loans for palay and corn production, and rental of farm tractors (inset) acquired through Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), helping local farmers modernize their production. SABLAYAN, Occidental Mindoro – In the remote sitio of San Miguel in Barangay Claudio Salgado, farmers here have learned to fend for themselves. Mostly living without the conveniences found in larger towns and cities, including access to financial services, they are left with no other choice but to turn to informal lenders to fund their crop production. This prompted Baptist Pastor Rev. Ariel M. Gonzales to form a group of 16 farmers from their church. Pooling P1,000 from each member as initial capital, the group started to offer loans to farmers with an affordable interest rate. In December 1996, with financial support from the Gintong Ani Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), Pastor Ariel established the San Miguel Multi-Purpose Cooperative (SAMMUCO), with him acting as its general manager. A year later, with the co-op’s membership base steadily growing, Pastor Ariel sought LANDBANK’s assistance through a Short-Term Loan Line (STLL) to finance their relending services for palay and corn production, improve its facilities, and expand to other businesses. With LANDBANK’s assistance, SAMMUCO is now also able to offer loans at a lower interest rate of 1% per month. “We have a great relationship with LANDBANK for the last 20 years. We saw our partnership progress, and we thank them for providing us with financial assistance at a very low interest rate,” said Pastor Ariel. Today, SAMMUCO buys the produce of its members in bulk at prevailing prices, and sells these in nearby provinces such as Oriental Mindoro and Batangas, since accessibility and transportation remains to be a challenge for small farmers. The co-op has also diversified its business and now runs a gas station, water station, plus plans to open a one-stop shop, and a mini hardware store. “Gaining the community’s trust proved to be a challenge at the beginning because most of the cooperatives in the area did not prosper, but we persisted. Everyone had their doubts but we overcame that by being transparent. We instilled a culture of trust among our members,” Pastor Ariel said. Currently, SAMMUCO has 280 farmer-members in their area and in neighboring barangays. The co-op also offers rental of post-harvest facilities such as harvesters, tractors, warehouse, and solar and mechanical dryers. SAMMUCO also prioritizes continuous education by offering technical skills trainings to its members. “Malayo kami sa bayan, more than 50 kilometers, pero napaabot pa rin sa amin ng LANDBANK ang kanilang serbisyo sa amin. And we are happy that we are able to contribute to our community, generate jobs, and help enrich the lives of our farmer-members. Their children were able to finish college. LANDBANK has been providing us with moral and financial support to achieve all of this. They never fail to guide us in managing our cooperative. Their support is what keeps us going,” Pastor Ariel added. For the past 57 years, LANDBANK remains steadfast in delivering intensified support to small farmers and fishers (SFFs). As of end-June this year, LANDBANK has extended loans to agriculture sector amounting to P227.47 Billion—P7.97 Billion or 3.6 percent more than the P219.5 Billion as of June 2019. For more information about LANDBANK’s Lending Programs, interested borrowers may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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LANDBANK-assisted cooperative helps sustain abaca industry in Catanduanes

(left) Pinoy Lingap-Damayan MPC (PLDC) officers and staff led by General Manager Antonio A. Jimenez, Jr., welcomes Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Region V Director Atty. Ma. Lourdes P. Pacao and LANDBANK Albay Lending Center Account Officer Armel A. Alcantara to their office building in Virac, Catanduanes. (right photos) PLDC farmer-members dry abaca fibers and prepare for its shipment. VIRAC, Catanduanes – Pursuing a great vision requires a leap of faith. This proved to be true for a small group of Catandunganons when they resigned from their day jobs at a rural bank 10 years ago to start the People’s Livelihood Development Cooperative, which eventually became the Pinoy Lingap-Damayan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PLDC), now one of the biggest cooperative in the province of Catanduanes and the Bicol region, with more than 12,000 members. PLDC, a cooperative engaged in microfinancing, and abaca processing and trading, was formed because 22 rural bank workers believed in their vision of improving the livelihood of their community. But it was a hard start-up for PLDC as a cooperative which had very limited funds to lend to its members. Due to financial problems, new members hesitated to join, while existing ones had to leave. “Even my fellow founding members almost lost hope in our cooperative. But I made them realize that giving up would waste all our hard work and efforts for PLDC. I asked them for a little more patience, which eventually paid off,” said Antonio A. Jimenez, Jr., General Manager of PLDC. They held on to keep the cooperative afloat until finally, in September 2011, LANDBANK offered a helping hand, granting them a rediscounting line to finance livelihood projects of its members, a lifeline that kept PLDC afloat, and helped it flourish. Soon, its members and capitalization continued to grow, and PLDC started expanding its operations, from offering micro-financing services to abaca processing and trading. The co-op’s venture into the abaca industry offered an alternative market for abaca farmers in the province to sell their produce, which challenged the monopoly of traders who set prices too low. Because PLDC offered higher prices, traders were also forced to increase theirs to be at par with what the co-op was offering, thus helping stabilize and even increase the market price of abaca in the province. For over 10 years, PLDC goes around the barangays to buy and haul abaca, saving farmers time and transportation expenses in going to the town proper to sell their produce. To date, the cooperative assists around 4,260 abaca farmers, and generates employment to more than a hundred locals, proving that the co-op is as resilient as the fibers of abaca. Aside from abaca processing and trading, PLDC still offered financial services to their members, financing projects such as family-managed micro-businesses, low-cost housing construction and improvement, education of their children, and family emergency needs. “We want to thank LANDBANK for trusting our cooperative. If it weren’t for them, our vision wouldn’t have become a reality. By providing us financial assistance, we were able to extend and help those who needed it the most–the farmers,” added Jimenez. At present, PLDC remains LANDBANK’s major growth partner in Catanduanes, with a credit line covering three facilities: rediscounting line, working capital for abaca trading/processing, and term loan for the cooperative’s office building. They have also expanded into four branches covering 11 towns of Catanduanes.

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Former OFW turns to farming with help from DA, LANDBANK

Rice farmer Cristine T. Almero works on her 2.33-hectare rice field in Pilar, Bohol to support the financial needs of her family. She is one of the 604 small rice farmers in Bohol who availed of the low-interest Sikat Saka Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) PILAR, Bohol – Unhappy and lonely working abroad, 38-year-old Cristine T. Almero decided to return to her hometown of Pilar to make a living by growing palay on the 2.33-hectare rice field that she inherited from her parents. But just like other small farmers in town, Almero once fell prey to informal lenders who charge high rates of 7% to 10% per month. But all that changed when she and other farmers availed of the Sikat Saka Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), which offers low-interest loans. “Noong wala pang Sikat Saka, kung saan-saan kami humihiram ng pera pambili ng feeds, panggastos sa palayan, pangtanim, at labor. Kulang talaga yung tubo kasi ibabayad lang sa interes,” said Almero, who, like small farmers like her, need timely and affordable credit support every cropping cycle to finance their palay production. Through the assistance of LANDBANK, Almero currently enjoys reduced interest rate of 0.75% per month under the Sikat Saka Program. The low rate is a result of her good payment record for loans she obtained from the Program starting in 2014, at an initial interest rate of 1.25% per month – still a relatively low borrowing rate than those offered by informal lenders. Since she joined the formal credit system, Almero said her income has increased to about 50% more every cropping cycle, providing a better life for her family. “Malaki ‘yung naitulong. Nakaipon na kami, nagkaroon kami ng savings, at nakabili kami ng second-hand na sasakyan. Gumiginhawa ang buhay namin, hindi na kami nangungutang dun sa labas. Tsaka nakakakain na kami ng maayos,” Almero shared.  Aside from low interest rates, Almero also benefits from the support services of Sikat Saka Program partner-agencies. These include market support from the National Food Authority (NFA), free irrigation services from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), full crop insurance premium subsidy from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), and training courses on credit worthiness and financial literacy facilitated by the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). “Gusto kong magpasalamat sa LANDBANK dahil malaki ang naitulong nila sa aming mga farmers. Sana magpatuloy pa sila sa pagtulong samin,” Almero added. Almero is only one of the 604 small rice farmers in Bohol who have availed of the Sikat Saka Program. And just like her, majority of these farmer-borrowers are already enjoying 0.75% interest rate per month for their loans. The Sikat Saka Program has helped increase palay production in the province of Bohol, particularly in areas under the Bohol Integrated Irrigation System. For the past couple of years, the province was able to contribute a substantial share to the region’s palay production, making it the “Rice Granary of Central Visayas.” Launched in 2012, the Sikat Saka Program provides a loan of up to P50,000 per hectare for small rice and corn farmers tilling at least half a hectare, but not exceeding five hectares of land, and are not members of LANDBANK-accredited cooperatives, which makes it difficult for them to secure loans from other financial institutions. For more details about the Program’s features, eligibility and application requirements, interested borrowers may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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LANDBANK, Can-avid sign P220-M loan to upgrade water systems

Water reservoirs in Can-avid, Eastern Samar. LANDBANK and the local government of Can-avid signed a P220-million loan agreement to finance the construction and upgrading of water system facilities in the municipality. CAN-AVID, Eastern Samar – Towards inclusive countryside development, the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and the municipal government of Can-avid in Eastern Samar recently signed a P220-million loan agreement to deliver better water service and minimize health hazards in the municipality. Can-avid Mayor Gil Norman Germino and LANDBANK Samar Lending Center Head Restituta Ilagan led the loan signing held last July 29, 2020, for the construction and upgrading of Can-avid’s water system facilities. Also present were Can-avid Municipal Accountant Celestino Cabanero, LANDBANK Borongan Branch Head Christopher Marco, and LANDBANK Samar Lending Center Account Officer Teofrido Lagria. According to the municipal government, the project will deliver efficient, uninterrupted, and less expensive supply of potable water to more residents in the area, while reducing the incidence of water-borne diseases caused by unsanitary water sources by as much as 80%. Can-avid’s water system will be upgraded from level II to level III to serve an additional six (6) upstream barangays previously dependent on individual deep well systems. The enhanced water system will soon benefit a total of 16 barangays covering 2,360 domestic households, 127 institutional establishments, and 190 commercial entities. The project design also has a provision for future servicing of four additional barangays along the national highway. “LANDBANK has always been a responsive and reliable partner servicing the needs of our municipality. The approval of our new loan will certainly boost the morale of local leaders as it manifests the Bank’s confidence in their leadership and serves as an affirmation of the meaningful programs that we undertake,” said Can-avid Mayor Germino. LANDBANK and the municipal government of Can-Avid have been development partners since 1992, when LANDBANK first became the depository bank of the LGU. The Bank also granted the Can-avid LGU a P14.92-million term loan in 2007 for farm-to-market roads, which opened access to remote barangays and farm areas, easing the transportation of agricultural products to the market. In May 2017, a LANDBANK Easy Access Facility (LEAF) was also opened in Can-avid located at the Municipal Building ground floor. Supporting local development LANDBANK’s financial services support local programs and projects geared towards accelerating local growth, which includes the construction of necessary infrastructure and improved delivery of basic services.   In 2019 alone, LANDBANK financed more than 152,000 kilometers of farm-to-market roads, the construction and renovation of 12 hospital buildings, 33 school buildings, and 354 classrooms, and assisted 37,125 new households get connected with potable water nationwide. Aside from its regular loans, LANDBANK also helps LGUs of rice-producing provinces through the PALAY ng Lalawigan (PAlay aLAY sa Magsasaka ng Lalawigan) Program to procure palay produced by their local farmers, as well as farm machineries and post-harvest facilities. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, LANDBANK has also allocated P10 billion under the HEAL (Help via Emergency Loan Assistance for LGUs) Program as emergency funding for provincial, city, and municipal governments for the procurement of goods and services to support their respective communities. Last July 29, LANDBANK launched another P10 billion loan program for provincial, city and municipal LGUs called the RISE UP LGUs (Restoration and Invigoration package for a Self-sufficient Economy towards UPgrowth for LGUs) Lending Program to finance the recovery and development of their local economies and communities hit hardest by the health pandemic. Interested borrowers may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000. For more updates, please Follow, Like and Share the official LANDBANK Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts (@landbankofficial), Twitter (@LBP_Official), or visit the LANDBANK website (www.landbank.com).

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Palay farmers in Antique thrive through DAR-DA-LANDBANK convergence

Barbaza Farmers Irrigators Association, Inc. (BFIA) successfully ventured into palay trading through the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) of Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK). BARBAZA, Antique – The combined efforts of government institutions led by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and Land Bank of the Philippine (LANDBANK) have helped uplift the lives of palay farmers and irrigators in this 4th class municipality through its successful palay trading business. Jose Mario Rico Magtulis, president of the Barbaza Farmers Irrigators Association, Inc. (BFIA), credits the collaboration among different government agencies as instrumental for them to extend assistance to their 708 members, with 217 of them being agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). Through the DAR, BFIA was able to avail of a P1.0M-credit line under the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) of LANDBANK in 2016, which they used as working capital for this new business. But before this, they also received various pre- and post-harvest facilities from DAR and DA, through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). “Dati siyempre NIA lang ang nagbibigay sa amin ng support. Nung pumasok sa amin si DAR, nalaman naming yung APCP loan at nakapasok naman kami sa LANDBANK na naging tulay para makatulong kami sa aming mga members,” said Magtulis. According to Magtulis, diversifying their association’s business into palay trading helped their farmers sell their crops at competitive prices.“Dahil sa APCP, nakatulong kami sa farmers kasi assured na yung kanilang produce ay mabibili. Yung association na ang bumibili ng kanilang palay, hindi na sila lugi,” he added. Equipped with a mechanical dryer, BFIA turns the palay they purchased from their farmer-members into rice, which are sold in their retail stores or distributed to the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as one of the accredited suppliers of the program in the province. BFIA currently covers a total of 706 hectares in 12 barangays of the municipality. Aside from buying the produce of their farmer-members, BFIA was also able to generate employment through APCP, hiring 32 additional personnel for their palay trading and irrigation system. Despite the drop in the farmgate price of palay, Magtulis assured that they remain committed to supporting their members through continued patronage of their crops. This kind of dedication for their members through the years has won for them the DA’s Best Irrigation Association in the National Level Category in 2018. Moving forward, BFIA is looking at expanding its business by venturing into fertilizers and farm inputs trading to further increase the income of their farmer-members, still with the help of LANDBANK and other government agencies. “Through LANDBANK, meron kaming assurance na patuloy kaming magnenegosyo kaya patuloy rin kaming magsisikap, at patuloy naming gagawin ang lahat para makapagbigay kami ng magandang serbisyo sa aming mga farmer-members,” Magtulis said. The APCP is a joint program of DAR and LANDBANK, which aims to achieve sustainable crop production and increase the income of ARBs and their households through the provision of credit and capacity building assistance. Aside from APCP, LANDBANK also partnered with DAR to introduce the Accessible Funds for Delivery to Agrarian Reform Benefeciaries (AFFORD-ARBs) Program last year, which provided loans to finance the production of rice, corn, high-value crops, as well as farm implements. Outstanding loans for this Program in 2019 reached P100.86 million, which was availed by 523 farmer-borrowers and a cooperative. For more information, log-on to LANDBANK’s official website at https://www.landbank.com/agrarian-operations or call the Bank’s Agrarian Services Group at (02) 8-405-7363, or visit the nearest LANDBANK Lending Center located nationwide.

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