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LANDBANK brings financial inclusion and banking services to Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte

(Top photo) Agusan del Norte Gov. Dale Corvera (7th from left) and LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo (8th from left) lead the ceremonial awarding of ACEF loans to palay farmer Agapito A. Bacalso Sr. (5th from right) and corn farmer Violita T. Prandas (4th from right) during the LANDBANK Financial Inclusion Forum in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte attended by more than 600 small farmers (lower photo). Also introduced during the program was Baug CARP Beneficiaries MPC as the Bank’s Agent Banking Partners in Las Nieves, led by General Manager Luxmi Auxillo (5th from left). Joining them are Las Nieves Mayor Avelina Rosales (9th from left), Vice Mayor Larry Bautista (6th from left), and LANDBANK officials led by Branch Banking Sector Head EVP Joselito Gutierrez (3rd from left), Mindanao Lending Group Head FVP Charlotte I. Conde (2nd from left), East Mindanao Branches Group Head FVP Camilo C. Leyba (rightmost), and CARAGA Lending Center Head Department Manager Linbert Fajunio (leftmost). LAS NIEVES, Agusan del Norte – For most residents of this 2nd class municipality in the northern part of the province, farming and fishing has been the way of life for its close to 30,000 residents, with the nearest banks and financial institutions still two hours away from the nearby cities of Bayugan and Butuan. Las Nieves is one of the country’s 536 cities and municipalities out of 1,634 that have remained unbanked according to the 2017 Financial Inclusion Survey of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). This year, it is one of eight municipalities where Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) is launching its Agent Banking Program, which will provide the public with basic banking transactions such as Point-of-Sale (POS) cash-out, prepaid card sale, card reload/card refund/withdrawal, balance inquiry, and bills payment. Through partnerships with client cooperatives, associations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and private entities, LANDBANK’s Agent Banking Program is targeted to further expand its reach in remote and unbanked areas without the Bank’s presence. During LANDBANK’s 5th Financial Inclusion (FI) Forum for 2019 here last October 12, 2019, the Bank formally introduced the Baug CARP Beneficiaries MPC (BCBMPC) as its first Agent Banking Partner in Las Nieves. Launched in 2016, and now on its fourth year run, the half-day forum, dubbed “Ipon at Kabuhayan para sa ating Kababayan,” gathered more than 600 attendees, majority of whom are farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs). “This is part of LANDBANK’s efforts in bringing our products and services closer to the countryside. With this campaign, we hope to uplift the lives of our fellow Filipinos, particularly the small farmers and fishers, and their families, who are in dire need of financial support for their agricultural livelihood activities,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. BCBMPC started as an association of small fishers of shrimps and crabs in 1987. By 1995, they were officially recognized by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) as an ARB-cooperative with 110 members. They were first granted a production loan by LANDBANK on October 12, 1998. And exactly 21 years later, on October 12, 2019, LANDBANK has now partnered with BCBMPC as the Bank’s Agent Banking Partner in Las Nieves under the Agent Banking Program. The Cabadbaran City-based cooperative now boasts of 20,000 coop members, with total assets of P700 million. The LANDBANK FI Forum is an initiative of the Bank in line with its financial inclusion thrust of serving unbanked communities across the country. Since its launch, LANDBANK has helped bring over 10,000 underserved Filipinos under the umbrella of formal financial services from 28 municipalities. Las Nieves is the 5th stop of the FI Forums this year. A total of 3,252 farmers and fishers have already participated in the first five areas of the FI Forums namely, Sto. Niño, Cagayan; Rizal, Palawan; Libacao, Aklan; and Aloguinsan, Cebu. FI Forums will also be conducted in Mayantoc, Tarlac; Claveria, Misamis Oriental; and Polillo Islands, Quezon within the year. During the event, LANDBANK featured modules on financial literacy to help farmers improve their income through the proper management of finances, as well as Bank products and services, particularly its direct lending programs for farmers. These programs include the Accessible Funds For Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBs), the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), and the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). At the same time, BCBMPC received a ceremonial check from LANDBANK in the amount of Php200 million representing its loan from the Bank for relending to small farmers and fishers. Joining LANDBANK President Borromeo at the event were Agusan del Norte Governor Dale B. Corvera, Las Nieves Mayor Avelina S. Rosales, LANDBANK Executive Vice President for Branch Banking Sector Joselito P. Gutierrez, East Mindanao Branches Group Head First Vice President Camilo C. Leyba, Mindanao Lending Group Head First Vice President Charlotte I. Conde, CARAGA Lending Center Head Department Manager Linbert Fajunio, and Butuan Branch Head Department Manager Augustus Manuel E. Mantua. Meanwhile, farmers who availed of the ACEF loan program were also recognized during the event, namely Agapito A. Bacalso Sr. (palay production) and Violita T. Prandas (corn production).

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LANDBANK and DPWH join hands for “Build, Build, Build” program

Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark A. Villar (third from left) and LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo (third from right) led the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement that will support the completion of the “Build, Build, Build” Program of the National Government. This was witnessed by DPWH Assistant Secretaries Eduardo S. Ramos (leftmost) and Maximo L. Carvajal (second from left), LANDBANK Executive Vice President Julio D. Climaco, Jr. (second from right), and LANDBANK Head of Property Valuation and Credit Information Department Assistant Vice President Buenaventura R. Del Rosario (rightmost). The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is tapping the appraisal services of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) to help speed-up the completion of projects that will support the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) Program of the National Government. DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar and LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on October 14, 2019 at the LANDBANK Plaza in Malate, Manila. They were joined by DPWH Assistant Secretaries Eduardo S. Ramos and Maximo L. Carvajal, LANDBANK Executive Vice President for Corporate Services Sector Julio D. Climaco, Jr., and LANDBANK Assistant Vice President Buenaventura R. Del Rosario, Head of Property Valuation and Credit Information Department. “Today’s MOA signing is specific to our mandate of supporting National Government projects for the development of the country as a whole. We hope that our assistance can help ease this process, as we vigorously work together with DPWH in facilitating the acquisition of ‘Right-Of-Way’ sites to be used in government infrastructure projects,” said President Borromeo. Under the MOA, the Bank will appraise lands and properties affected by DPWH projects to determine its market value, which is one of the requirements for the Department to acquire its Right-of-Way (ROW) as provided under Republic Act 10752 or “The Right of Way Act.” The partnership agreement will cover 1,527 DPWH projects nationwide, including farm-to-market roads, bypass roads, and road widening, amounting to an estimated appraisal service fee of P495.78 million. According to DPWH, it has tapped the services of LANDBANK because of the adequate ability, expertise, and experience in property valuation and appraisal of the Bank’s licensed appraisers nationwide. When he assumed office, President Rodrigo R. Duterte initiated the BBB Program as its flagship economic project, which seeks to accelerate infrastructure spending and develop industries that will yield robust growth, create jobs and improve the lives of Filipinos. With an estimated budget of P8.4 trillion spread over six years, the Program is meant to usher in a “golden age of infrastructure,” bringing in more than 9,000 kilometers of roads; 2,000 bridges; 4,000 flood control projects, as well as new railways and airports. As the engineering and construction arm of the National Government, DPWH serves as the conduit for the implementation of the BBB Program. Meanwhile, LANDBANK heeds the National Government’s call for a concerted effort among its agencies to expedite the completion of national development projects.

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DTI-LANDBANK partnership facilitates ‘ease of doing business’

(Seated) DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (center), National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon (right) and LANDBANK Executive Vice President Liduvino S Geron (left) led the MOA signing, witnessed by (standing, L – R) LANDBANK Senior Vice President Ramon Monteloyola, DTI Assistant Secretary Mary Jean Pacheco, and BTr Deputy Treasurer Sharon Almanza.   In their continuing efforts to improve and speed-up the delivery of government services, Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) allowing the online payment of business name registration and renewal fees through LANDBANK’s e-Payment facility, Link.Biz Portal. Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, BTr National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon, and LANDBANK Executive Vice President Liduvino S. Geron, representing LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo, led the signing ceremony held on September 27, 2019 at the Ayuntamiento Building in Intramuros, Manila. “This is aligned with the mandate of the President, who has always mentioned that the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ should be a primary concern. This is to address long queues and delays in the processing of government services to make business transactions easier for the public,” said Secretary Lopez. Under the agreement, LANDBANK cardholders may now pay the corresponding fees online through the Link.Biz Portal and avoid long queues. The online payment facility, along with the DTI’s Business Name Registration System Next Generation or BNRS Next Gen (an online platform where the public could register and renew their business names), aims to make the process more convenient and efficient. The Link.Biz Portal is an e-Payment facility where LBP cardholders can pay for products and services of both government and private institutions via the internet. Now with more than 600 merchants on board, secure transactions can be made by the public 24/7, anytime, anywhere, even at the comfort of their own homes. “The opening of other payment channels such as the Link.Biz Portal is part of LANDBANK’s dedication in serving more Filipinos, and providing them with more options which enable convenient transactions,” said LANDBANK Executive Vice President Geron. The initiative is part of the government’s efforts in responding to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s mandate of providing the public simpler and more convenient transactions with the government, under the the Republic Act No. 11032 also known as the “Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018”. “Electronic payment systems can allow Filipinos to transact with the government in a convenient and cost-effective manner,” said National Treasurer De Leon.

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LANDBANK makes loans more accessible, affordable for farmers, fishers

The Land Bank of the Philippines is taking steps to make its direct lending programs more accessible and affordable for small farmers and fishers (SFFs), in line with its aggressive drive to intensify support to the sector. “We understand that applying for loans can be intimidating, especially for small farmers and fishers, so we have started making basic improvements in our processes to make it easier for them to avail of loans,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. Among the basic enhancements which the Bank made is the simplification of the loan application form, which has been condensed into one document – from what used to be three separate documents (i.e. Application Form, Sworn Statement/Attestation, and Data Privacy Consent). Completing the form is also now more straightforward with mostly tick boxes, to make it easier for farmers and fishers. The promissory note which used to be a 14-page document has also been simplified and shortened to one page. Basic documentary requirements have likewise been trimmed down. SFF borrowers of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) Lending Program, for instance, will only need to submit a loan application form, a simple farm plan, and barangay clearance. More affordable The Bank also made its programs more affordable by standardizing the interest rates at 5% per annum for most direct lending programs for SFFs. These include the Accessible Funds for Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBs) Program, which provides loans to finance production of rice, corn, and high-value crops, as well as the acquisition of small farm implements. Retail lending programs for SFFs that the Bank administers for the Department of Agriculture also now have interest rates fixed at 2% p.a. These include the ACEF Lending Program and the Socialized Credit Program under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SCP-SIDA) funded by the Sugar Regulatory Administration. Also available at an interest rate of 2% p.a. is the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF). Under the Program, LANDBANK will lend up to P500 million annually for the next six years to rice farmers registered in the Registry System on Basic Sectors in Agriculture or RSBSA, and to DA-accredited cooperatives. For on-lending by cooperatives under ERCA-RCEF, interest rate is at 0% p.a., as long as effective pass-on rate to end borrowers is not higher than 6% p.a. Faster Processing of loan applications is also quicker – with average turn-around time of just one day as against the maximum 10-days commitment to the Governance Commission for GOCCs. This is provided that the borrower submitted complete documents and credit/background investigation is favourable. “This is just the beginning as we are actively looking for ways to further improve the loan application process for our farmer and fisher borrowers. Through these efforts, we hope to encourage them to go to LANDBANK instead of borrowing from informal lenders who charge significantly higher rates,” Borromeo added.

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LANDBANK continues fourth year of Financial Inclusion Forum in Cebu

Financial Inclusion Forum in Aloguinsan, Cebu. (left photo, from L-R) Mayor Cesare Ignatius G. Moreno and LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo with farmer-availers of the ACEF loan program, namely:  Apdebafi Paraiso, Jocelyn Lapiña, and Juanito and Vicente Secretaria. They are joined by LANDBANK Executive Vice President for Branch Banking Sector Joselito P. Gutierrez. (top right photo) LANDBANK’s Agent Banking Partner in Aloguinsan is LAMAC Multi-Purpose Cooperative, represented by General Manager Ma. Elena Limocon. The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) continued the fourth year of its Financial Inclusion (FI) Forum in Aloguinsan, Cebu, in an event which gathered more than 500 attendees, majority of whom are farmers. Aloguinsan is a 4th class municipality in the western part of the province, where agriculture and fishing are major sources of livelihood.   Prior to Aloguinsan, the previous three legs of this year’s series of FI Forums were held in the following underserved municipalities: Sto. Niño, Cagayan; Rizal, Palawan; and Libacao, Aklan. FI Forums will also be conducted in Mayantoc, Tarlac; Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte; Claveria, Misamis Oriental, and Polillo Islands, Quezon.   The half-day forum dubbed “Ipon at Kabuhayan para sa ating Kababayan” featured modules on financial literacy and LANDBANK’s products and services, particularly its lending programs for farmers. Among the programs presented during the forum were the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) and Accessible Funds For Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBs). Farmers who availed the ACEF loan were recognized during the event, namely Apdebafi Paraiso, Jocelyn Lapiña, and Juanito and Vicente Secretaria. “This is part of LANDBANK’s efforts in bringing our products and services closer to the countryside. With this campaign, we hope to uplift the lives of our fellow Filipinos, especially farmers and fishers, by helping them improve their income through the proper management of finances,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. Launched in 2016, the FI Forum is an initiative of the Bank in line with its financial inclusion thrust of serving unbanked communities across the country. Since its launch, LANDBANK has helped bring over 10,000 underserved Filipinos under the umbrella of formal financial services from 28 municipalities. Also present in the event with LANDBANK President Borromeo were Aloguinsan Mayor Cesare E. Moreno, LANDBANK Executive Vice President for Branch Banking Sector Joselito P. Gutierrez, and other Bank officials. LAMAC Multi-Purpose Cooperative During the event, LANDBANK also formally launched its first Agent Banking partner in Aloguinsan under its Agent Banking Program. LANDBANK’s Agent Banking Program is targeted to further expand its reach in remote and unbanked areas without the Bank’s presence, through partnerships with client cooperatives, associations, SMEs, and private entities. Through the Program, LAMAC MPC can serve the public’s basic banking transactions such as Point-of-Sale (POS) Cash-Out, prepaid card sale, card reload/card refund/withdrawal, balance inquiry, and bills payment.

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LANDBANK supports lifeblood of community in Zamboanga Sibugay

GARBEMCO manages a rubber plantation in Goodyear, Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay and is currently one of the major rubber producers in the area. For a community of 312 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay, a 1,000-hectare plantation of rubber trees is the primary source of income and livelihood. These ARBs have established a profitable system of maintaining the rubber trees, gathering produce and selling them, thanks to the organization they formed in 1992 – the Goodyear Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (GARBEMCO). The Cooperative itself generates employment in the community. In 2018, GARBEMCO provided jobs to 321 individuals. They harvest around 600 bales of crumb rubber per week, which are packed at 33.33 kilos per bale. GARBEMCO sells these bales at P60 per kilo, mostly to the local market, and some to areas in Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. According to GARBEMCO General Manager Lilia Manuel, the rubber plantation has been a profitable venture for the Co-op, as supplemented by other businesses including credit operations, fishpond operations, abaca production, handicraft making, consumer store, rice field rental, rice milling and trading, and hauling services. To help the Co-op further enhance its business, LANDBANK approved a new loan on September 17, 2019 to finance its working capital requirement for rubber production, rice milling and trading, consumer store, and fishpond and abaca production. Through the years, LANDBANK has been supportive of GARBEMCO’s endeavors as the growth of the Co-op redounds to the benefit of its ARB members. GARBEMCO and LANDBANK’s relationship can be traced back to 1995. The Co-op was still in its early years and was suffering from low production due to hectares of senile rubber trees. When the Bank extended an agricultural production loan, the Cooperative was able to rehabilitate its plantation and managed to transcend the challenges in its operations. Another loan was extended to GARBEMCO in 2012, which the Co-op used for replanting purposes covering a total area of 238 hectares. This helped the Co-op further grow its rubber business. From being besieged by various problems, the Cooperative has now grown and is reaping the rewards of sound operations. Apart from making the necessary reorganization in the management team, it also made efforts to improve its operational capacity through trainings on risk and capacity building, among others, under the supervision of the LANDBANK Countryside Development Foundation, Inc. GARBEMCO General Manager Manuel said, “We are grateful to the Land Bank of the Philippines for the financial and technical assistance provided to our Cooperative to enhance and strengthen our operation. Looking forward to more fruitful years of partnership because LANDBANK indeed helped us grow!” As the Bank aggressively expands its retail lending programs to provide farmers and fishers with direct access to credit, it continues to channel financing support to the sector through partner conduits, such as farmers’ and fishers’ cooperatives, irrigators’ associations, and countryside financial institutions. For more information on LANDBANK’s lending programs, visit www.landbank.com or the nearest LANDBANK Lending Center.  

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LANDBANK wins Karlsruhe Award for Payatas and Rodriguez Landfills Waste-to-Energy Projects

LANDBANK Directors Nancy Irlanda Tanjuatco (2nd from left) and Jesus V. Hinlo Jr. (4th from left), together with Philippine Ambassador to Germany Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega (center) receive the “Karlsruhe Outstanding Sustainable Finance Project Award” from Karlsruhe City Mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup (leftmost) and European Organisation for Sustainable Development CEO/event co-organizer Arshad Rab (rightmost).   The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) was recently conferred with the “Karlsruhe Outstanding Sustainable Finance Project Award” during the Global Sustainable Finance Conference 2019 in Karlsruhe City, Germany in July 2019, in recognition of its successful implementation of the Carbon Finance Support Facility (CFSF) which involves the installation of landfill gas collection and combustion systems for electricity generation in two of the country’s largest landfills. The waste-to-energy projects successfully implemented under the CFSF involve the methane gas power plant projects at the Quezon City and Rizal Province sanitary landfills, operated by Pangea Green Energy Philippines, Inc. (PGEP) and Montalban Methane Power Corporation (MMPC), respectively. These projects have power generation capacities of 2.5 MW and 8.19 MW, respectively, and are expected to contribute reduction of about 1M tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, or equivalent to 430,000 barrels of crude oil consumption, for the years 2014-2020. “The Carbon Finance Support Facility is part of LANDBANK’s response to the global call for immediate and appropriate action to mitigate climate change. We look forward to supporting more waste-to-energy projects, as we hope to encourage more local enterprises to lead socially-responsible and environmentally-conscious operations,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. Both projects were registered by LANDBANK as eligible projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one ton of CO2. These CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol. The CDM is a trailblazer, being the first global environmental investment and credit scheme of its kind, and with the CERs as a standardized emissions offset instrument.

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LANDBANK distributes P12.9M cash grants to UCT beneficiaries in Misamis Oriental

LANDBANK employees distributes cash grants to UCT beneficiaries in Misamis Oriental. The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) recently released cash pay-outs under the Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the amount of P12.9 million to 5,386 beneficiaries in separate events in the Province of Misamis Oriental. The first cash pay-out was held last August 10, 2019 in the Municipality of Initao, Misamis Oriental for 2,006 “Social Pension” and 1,328 “Listahanan” UCT beneficiaries from 11 barangays, namely, Aluna, Andales, Calacapan, Gimangpang, Kanitoan, Pagahan, Poblacion, San Pedro, Sinalac, Tawantawan, and Tubigan. This was followed by two more cash pay-out events held on August 13 to 14, and August 20 for 1,436 “Social Pension” and 616 “Listahanan” UCT beneficiaries from 10 barangays in the Municipality of Naawan, Misamis Oriental composed of Barangays Don Pedro, Linangkayan,           Lubilan, Mapulog, Maputi, Mat-i, Patag, Poblacion, Tagbalogo, and Tuboran. The beneficiaries, who each received P2,400.00 in cash, were mostly farmers and fishers, and senior citizens. The UCT Program is the tax subsidy provided under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law to help the marginalized who will not directly benefit from the lowering of personal income tax but will be affected by the moderate increase in prices due to the higher oil excise tax, introduction of the sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax and the expansion of the value-added tax (VAT) base. It is considered to be the biggest tax reform mitigation program under the TRAIN Law which seeks to provide 10 million beneficiaries with cash subsidies amounting to P200 a month for 2018 and P300 a month for 2019 and 2020. As part of its support to the development programs of the national government, LANDBANK has been designated as the conduit for the pay-outs to the UCT Program beneficiaries - of which a considerable number are farmers and fishers.

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LANDBANK joins distribution of land titles during CARP’s 31st anniversary celebration

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the distribution of land titles, joined by DAR Secretary John Castriciones and LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo joined President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary John Castriciones in distributing Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) and Emancipation Patents (EPs) to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) at the DAR Central Office in Quezon City, last August 27, 2019. The said distribution is part of the 31st anniversary celebration of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, a long-term land reform program managed by DAR which aims to grant landless farmers and farm workers ownership of agricultural lands. A total of 40,242 CLOAs and 6,267 EPs, covering a combined land area of 70,249 hectares were turned over by LANDBANK to DAR, which were distributed to ARBs from Regions III (Central Luzon), IV-A (CALABARZON), and IV-B (MIMAROPA). According to Castriciones, DAR is also expediting land acquisition and land distribution in response to President Duterte’s directive to accelerate the implementation of CARP. LANDBANK continues to intensify its support to ARBs as a financial intermediary of CARP; having turned over to DAR a total of 208,895 CLOAs and EPs covering a total land area of 354,783 hectares.

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LANDBANK, DA sign agreement on P1.5-billion support for farmers

LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo (seated, 2nd from left) and Agriculture Acting Secretary William D. Dar (seated, 3rd from left) sign a MOA with LBP Lending Program Management Group Head/FVP Emellie Tamayo (seated, leftmost) and Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Executive Director Jocelyn Alma Badiola (seated, rightmost), witnessed by Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones (standing, 4th from left), with (standing, from left) Deputy Treasurer Atty. Erwin Sta. Ana, LBP Directors Jesus Hinlo Jr., Jaime Miralles, and Virgilio Robes Jr., Agriculture Undersecretary Atty. Francisco Villano Jr., and ACPC Deputy Executive Director Ramon Yedra (standing, rightmost). The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and the Department of Agriculture (DA), through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), signed on August 28, 2019 a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that would provide financial assistance to small farmers affected by the implementation of Republic Act No. 11203 also known as the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL). Acting Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar and LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo led the signing of the agreement to implement the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program (SURE Aid) for Rice Farmers, which will provide an immediate one-time loan assistance of P15,000, payable in 8 years, to rice farmers who are tilling one hectare of land and below, and whose incomes were affected by the drop of prices of palay this year. “We are trying to appraise the very predicament of the rice farmers affected by a complex set of issues, including the Rice Tariffication Law. But because of the falling prices of palay, we thought it necessary to look at every opportunity that is available for us. There are many more measures and this is one of them. We would like to get more ideas – measures that we need to implement right away,” said Secretary Dar, who is also Chairman of ACPC, an attached agency of DA. Under the agreement, LANDBANK will implement the SURE Aid Program by releasing the loans either through direct lending to farmers or through service conduits. For its part, DA-ACPC will set aside P1.5 billion for the Program and provide the Bank with the validated list of farmers eligible for the loan assistance, as well as the list of DA-identified service conduits. “We are very excited to be part of this very important Program that will cushion the initial impact of the lowering of the farm gate prices of palay because of the new rice tariffication regime. Please be assured that LANDBANK is fully on-board to work with you in making greater things happen for our farmers and fishers,” said President Borromeo. She also thanked Secretary Dar for his “very swift and solid move,” which she said was a clear sign of many great things to come in the agriculture sector. The MOA signing was witnessed by members of the LANDBANK Board of Directors led by Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, Atty. Jesus Hinlo Jr., Jaime Miralles, and Virgilio Robes Jr. They were joined by Agriculture Undersecretary Atty. Francisco Villano Jr., ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma Badiola, ACPC Deputy Executive Director Ramon Yedra, Deputy Treasurer Atty. Erwin Sta. Ana, and LANDBANK Lending Program Management Group Head/FVP Emellie Tamayo.

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Farmer finds success in agri-preneurship through science, thirst for learning

“A farmer has to be a scientist. You have to do a lot of observing. You don’t just plant and plant.” – This is the philosophy that farmer-turned-agripreneur Ruben Ragas lives by. His farm in Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte is proof of his careful and meticulous planning. All sections - from the fish pond and livestock shed to the various vegetable plots - are strategically laid out for specific reasons. “It has to be,” Ruben says. “For example, since the wind from the sea blows from the west, if we put the livestock shed west of the house, the smell is going to go straight to our living room. Everything has to be thought out.”   Ruben is among the hundreds of small farmers who benefited from direct financing from LANDBANK through the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF). The ACEF Lending Program is implemented by LANDBANK in partnership with the Department of Agriculture to help increase the productivity of farmers, fishers, and their cooperatives and associations, as well as MSMEs, through credit assistance. Since the Program was launched in 2018, the Bank has so far released P154.29 million in loans to more than 400 borrowers. Continuous learning Determined to improve his knowledge and skills, Ruben continuously attended seminars and technical courses related to farming. His one-year stint with the Federation of Agrarian Reform Communities further taught him basic knowledge and skills on effective farming and efficient marketing strategies.   Equipped with farm resource and basic entrepreneurial experience, Ruben hoped to further grow their family’s livelihood. Through LANDBANK-assisted Baug CARP Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BCBMPC) in Magallanes, Agusan del Norte, Ruben was able to buy seedlings and farm-inputs from a P15,000-loan from the coop. Over the next few years, he went to BCBMPC for more capital, including a P50,000 loan, to help him buy another half-hectare of land. He has also since then diversified into raising tilapia and various livestock. Before venturing into diversified and organic farming, his family’s income was so small.  Ruben recalls how they used to live in a wood and nipa house with no concrete floor. His farm also used to be overrun with tall grass and the land so infertile. Today, his integrated farm is planted with a variety of vegetables, fruits, and root crops. He also raises native chicken, turkey, goats, and cows; and he produces tilapia, dalag, and other native freshwater fish. He remains methodical as he implements organic farming – with the manure of his livestock and left-over vegetables allowed to naturally decompose for use as fertilizer; while the urine from his goats are for later use as plant insect repellent and fungicide.  In 2018, Ruben availed of the ACEF loan from LANDBANK, hoping to further expand his farm. Less than four months after the release of the loan, Ruben and his family launched The Ragas Farm where visitors are allowed to pick their choice of fruits and vegetables and buy them at significantly cheaper prices than retail market price.   Aside from working capital for vegetable production, LANDBANK also provided Ruben with a term loan for the improvement of his farm which includes the building of a training hall and a drilled well for their farm irrigation.   Through his methodical farming and the financial support provided by LANDBANK through the ACEF Fund, The Ragas Farm is now a major producer of farm-fresh vegetables. It is also fast becoming a major agri-tourism site – attracting visitors from different municipalities and serving as a venue for technology trainings for various small farmers. Ruben is now also an educator and life coach sought after by institutions to conduct lessons and seminars for aspiring agri-entrepreneurs. For his accomplishments in farming and inspiring drive to succeed, Ruben was awarded by LANDBANK as “Ulirang Magsasaka” in the 2015 Gawad sa Pinakatanging Kooperatiba.

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LANDBANK intensifies focus on direct lending to ARBs, small farmers

In support of the government’s aggressive drive to increase the productivity and income of farmers and fishers through greater access to financing, the Land Bank of the Philippines is pursuing a more focused and direct approach in lending to provide more Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) and individual small farmers with access to credit. “We are committed to vigorously extend our financial support to better serve small farmers and fishers, including ARBs, who need it most. We are strengthening our partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Agriculture to make sure that we reach the rightful beneficiaries of credit and technical support,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. AFFORD-ARBs LANDBANK put in place a P5-billion direct lending program called Accessible Funds For Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries or AFFORD-ARBs, which will specifically cater to ARBs engaged in rice, corn, and high-value crops production. The loan can also be used to finance the acquisition of small farm implements. DAR, as program partner, will provide a list of eligible ARBs that LANDBANK can focus on, and will handle the mobilization of borrowers for loan orientation and financial literacy seminars prior to loan release. Initial target beneficiaries of the Program are the roughly 58,000 recipients of the Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) distributed from 2016 to 2018. Other eligible CARP beneficiaries based on the list to be provided by DAR shall also be granted credit assistance under the program.  True to its name, AFFORD-ARBs comes with affordable interest rate at 6% per annum for short term loans and 7% per annum for long term loans. EMBRACE Another program designed to include as many Filipinos as possible into the fold of formal financial services is the EMBRACE or Empowering Barangays in Remote Areas through Credit and Enterprise Program. This direct lending program gives priority to small farmers who are tilling not more than five hectares of agricultural land and small fishers engaged in small scale fishing, seaweed farming, and aquaculture in unserved municipalities. Also covered in the Program are micro enterprises with asset size of not more than P3 million and small enterprises with asset size of more than P3 million but not more than P15 million. Eligible projects include a wide array of agribusinesses, such as crop production, poultries, backyard piggeries, fishery production, as well as other agri-enterprise and livelihood projects. These programs complement the Bank’s other retail lending programs for farmers and fishers and its menu of credit programs for conduits such as cooperatives, rural banks, non-government organizations, and microfinance institutions which in turn re-lend to small farmers, fishers and microenterprises. Apart from credit support, LANDBANK also provides financial literacy and capability-building seminars to make sure borrowers are equipped with basic financial knowledge that will allow them to manage their finances and boost their income. “While we focus on expanding direct lending to small farmer and fishers, we remain equally committed to maintaining solid relationships with conduits and partners that help us move forward in the pursuit of our mandate. With the ratification of RA11321 or the Sagip Saka Act, we are more than ready to provide responsive financing to farmer- and fisher-enterprises to help improve their income and boost the sector’s productivity,” Borromeo added. LANDBANK remains as one of the biggest credit providers to small farmers, fishers, and MSMEs among government financial institutions.

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