Left photo: Now heavily involved in the family business, Arjay Vasquez encouraged his father to invest in mechanization. Right Photo: Husband and wife Romeo and Josefa Consuelo Vasquez showcase their innovative farming technique of growing seeds on trays before they are transplanted to the prepared field.
Born to a landless tenant farmer in San Mateo, Isabela, Romeo Vasquez was determined to improve his life. He worked odd jobs to support himself through college, eventually earning an Agricultural Engineering Degree from the Central Luzon State University. After graduation, he worked double jobs in Manila as sales representative for a fertilizer company and as a jeepney driver at night.
Then with a growing family of his own, he saved all his extra earnings and commissions to buy farm lots. But in 1986, he was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his left leg, which had to be amputated. Although his doctor gave him a small chance of complete recovery from the cancer, Romeo refused to give in and instead worked harder for his family.
While he remained employed in the fertilizer company, he started cultivating his one-hectare palay farm in his native San Mateo. However, the year 1991 dealt him with both a blessing and a setback – his doctor pronounced him cancer-free, but the fertilizer company he was working for closed down. This prompted him to go back to his farm and, with an additional two hectares mortgaged by local farmers, he created R.S. Vasquez Enterprises as a full-time palay trading, rice milling, and seed production business.
Seeking to make quality rice accessible to ordinary consumers, they created their own Mestizo Rice variety, which became sought-after not only in Isabela, but also in neighboring provinces and in Metro Manila. The business gradually expanded, especially after the Land Bank of the Philippines provided credit lines in 2004, which the couple partly used to supply neighboring farmers with their own seed variety for free. In return, the farmers would sell them their harvest.
His son, Arjay Rusell, who has been involved in the farm since 2012, encouraged Romeo to invest on mechanization and made sure that the company adopted the latest in rice production technologies. Romeo regularly attended agriculture-related training courses and linked up with the Department of Agriculture (DA) for technical assistance and continuing skills training, which exposed him to various agricultural innovations.
R. S. Vasquez Enterprises also began the production of seeds grown in plastic trays containing combined pulverized soil and organic matter. The seedlings are regularly watered before being transplanted to the prepared field using mechanical transplanters. Because of these innovations, the DA named Engr. Vasquez as National Consultant in hybrid rice promotion to teach farmers proper farm waste management, inter-cropping, and other good practices in agribusiness. He has also won various awards through the years, including the Agricultural Entrepreneur Gold Award in The Outstanding Farmers of the Philippines in 2013 and the 3rd place under the Outstanding SME Agri-based Category of the LANDBANK Gawad SME 2018.
The business has since then become a family affair, with their sons on top of introducing the latest farming technologies. They now farm several hectares of land and also advocate farm mechanization by helping set up mechanized farm learning centers that teach proper land preparation, farm site development, and irrigation.
The Enterprise has also generated more than 80 jobs for the community through its palay trading, seeds production, goat raising, and vegetable production businesses. They recently opened a new agricultural supply business, where they also offer free consultancy on palay production activities and agricultural inputs.
LANDBANK remains aggressive in providing credit support to farmers like Romeo Vasquez, in pursuit of its drive to help more farmers and fishers boost their production and increase their income.
“As we make direct financing available to more small farmers and fishers nationwide, we also strongly encourage them to invest on mechanization and adopt other agricultural technologies, as this will significantly decrease production cost and improve their harvest,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo.
LANDBANK helps small farmers to engage in mechanization through its various credit programs. These include the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), which helps small farmers and fishers (SFF), their cooperatives and associations, as well as Micro and Small Enterprises, in their crop production requirements and purchase of agri-machineries, equipment, and facilities.
Another program that LANDBANK implements is the DA-funded Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF), which farmers can tap for their rice production or acquisition of rice farm equipment or machinery. This is available to rice farmers registered in the Registry System on Basic Sectors in Agriculture or RSBSA, and to DA-accredited cooperatives.
The ACEF Lending Program and ERCA-RCEF now have interest rates fixed at only 2% per annum to make them more affordable for small farmers.
The Bank also standardized at 5% per annum the interest rates for most of its 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.
LANDBANK bankrolls P1.15-B waste-to-energy power plant in Nueva Ecija
Green Innovations for Tomorrow Corporation’s (GIFTC) rice husk-fueled power plant in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, recycles around 480,000 kg. of rice husks per day and can supply electricity to around 6,480 households. TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija – The Green Innovations for Tomorrow Corporation (GIFTC) has carried out an economical and sustainable solution to address the problem of agricultural waste in this province—recognized as the ‘rice granary’ of the Philippines—by converting rice husks as biomass into renewable energy. With rice production as the major source of livelihood in this palay-producing town, large volumes of rice husks are regularly being disposed of or burned in open fire, posing both environmental and health hazards to the community. GIFTC aspired to recycle and make this agricultural waste useful by establishing a biomass power plant that would generate electricity for households in the province. To help make this vision a reality, GIFTC sought financial assistance from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) and was granted loans in 2013 and 2018 totaling P1.15 billion under the Bank’s Renewable Energy Program. Part of the LANDBANK loan bankrolled the construction of GIFTC’s biomass power plant in 2016, which is currently operating at a capacity of 10.8 megawatts electric (MWe). The rest of the loan was allocated for the reimbursement of cost utilized for warehouses, dormitories and other structures, replacement or repair of power plant parts, permanent working capital, including the acquisition of rice husk. “LANDBANK was the first financial institution that believed in GIFTC’s vision for a sustainable future for our town, and for the whole country. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it weren’t for their assistance,” said Engr. Martin O. Vendivil, Assistant Chief Operating Officer of GIFTC. Through the services of a grid operator, GIFTC’s biomass power plant can supply electricity to an estimated 6,480 households in selected municipalities and cities in Nueva Ecija, including other areas in neighboring provinces. The GIFTC power plant consumes around 480,000 kilograms of rice husks per day bought from rice mills in the area, significantly decreasing agricultural waste in the town. More importantly, the energy corporation helps reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, while preserving the country’s natural resources by manufacturing a renewable energy source. “LANDBANK fully supports projects that harness the potential of renewable and alternative energy resources. We will continue to work with development partners in preserving our environment and promoting climate change adaptation,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. Through the LANDBANK Renewable Energy Program, the state-run Bank aims to finance the development of renewable energy sources and increase access to reliable, clean and sustainable power to help mitigate the effects of global warming and climate change in the country. Eligible borrowers such as electric cooperatives, local government units (LGUs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), and government agencies may borrow up to 90% of the total cost of the project. Cooperatives, associations and private borrowers categorized as single proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations may also borrow up to 80% of the total project cost under the Program. Term loans for working capital and project preparation are payable up to five (5) years with a six-month grace period on principal payment, while loans for capital expenditure are payable based on the borrower’s cash flow up to 15 years, with a three-year grace period. The interest rate shall be based on the prevailing market rate but not lower than 5% per year. As of 31 March 2022, LANDBANK has approved loans totaling P20.1 billion to 56 borrowers nationwide under the Renewable Energy Program, underscoring the Bank’s thrust of promoting sustainable finance and development.LEARN MORE
LANDBANK scales up support for Bulacan with new corporate center
LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo (3rd from left), Bulacan State University President Dr. Cecilia S. Navasero-Gascon (5th from left), and Dr. Yanga’s Colleges, Inc. President Michael S. Yanga (4th from left) lead the inauguration of the LANDBANK Bulacan Corporate Center along McArthur Highway in Brgy. Dakila, Malolos City on 13 May 2022. Joining them are LANDBANK Executive Vice Presidents Julio D. Climaco, Jr. (leftmost) and Alan V. Bornas (rightmost), and LANDBANK Senior Vice President Randolph L. Montesa (2nd from left). MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan – Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) recently inaugurated a three-story corporate center along McArthur Highway in Brgy. Dakila, Malolos City to provide Bulaceños convenient access to a wide array of banking services. The LANDBANK Bulacan Corporate Center is designed as a one-stop shop for various banking and financial services, as it houses the Bank’s major touchpoints and offices. Located at the ground floor of the corporate center is the LANDBANK Malolos Highway Branch, which caters to nearby local government units, academic institutions, corporations, and individual depositors from the 51 barangays of Malolos City and the 29 barangays of the Municipality of Calumpit. Also situated in the building is the LANDBANK Bulacan Lending Center, which offers affordable financing for farmers and fishers, agribusinesses, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), countryside financial institutions, and local government units (LGUs), among others. LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo, Bulacan State University President Dr. Cecilia S. Navasero-Gascon, and Dr. Yanga’s Colleges, Inc. President Michael S. Yanga led the inauguration rites for the LANDBANK Bulacan Corporate Center on 13 May 2022. They were joined by LANDBANK Executive Vice Presidents Julio D. Climaco, Jr. and Alan V. Bornas, Senior Vice President Randolph L. Montesa, and other LANDBANK officials. “The LANDBANK Bulacan Corporate Center illustrates our continuing commitment to provide greater banking convenience and accessibility to our growing customers. We also hope that this serves as a landmark to generate livelihood and business opportunities to bolster Bulacan’s local economy,” said President and CEO Borromeo. Other LANDBANK field offices stationed in the Bulacan Corporate Center are the Bulacan Accounting Center, Field Legal Services, Area Legal Unit II, Property Valuation and Credit Information Department-Bulacan Field Team, and the Bulacan Loans Operations Field Unit. A dedicated space for the Commission on Audit Regional Office III was also provided within the corporate center. As of end-April 2022, LANDBANK has a total of 12 branches, one (1) lending center, and 51 automated teller machines (ATMs) across the Province of Bulacan. LANDBANK is the only bank present in all 81 provinces in the Philippines, with its continued expansion geared towards servicing the requirements of its diverse customer base, especially in unbanked and underserved areas.LEARN MORE
LANDBANK loans to agri sector reach P237-B as of Q1 2022
The Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) remains the biggest lender to the agriculture sector, with loans reaching P236.8 billion as of 31 March 2022. The loans were used to finance various economic activities of major players in the industry—from small farmers and fishers to large agribusiness enterprises, as well as local government units (LGUs) and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) for agri-aqua related projects and construction of needed infrastructure such as public markets, cold storages, irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, warehouses, and slaughterhouses. Small farmers and fishers benefited from the P35 billion loans channeled through cooperatives and farmers’ associations, rural financial institutions and other partner conduits of LANDBANK. “We continue to intensify our support to the agri sector, particularly the farmers and fishers whom we celebrate in this month of May. LANDBANK is committed in delivering timely and responsive support to boost their production and income,” said LANDBANK president and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo. Financing for small, medium, and large agribusiness enterprises accounted for P146.62 billion of the total loans, P55.19 billion supported LGUs and GOCCs, and the remaining P99.64 billion backed the construction and improvement of essential infrastructure. In terms of economic activities, P56.39 billion of LANDBANK’s total agri sector loans financed crops, livestock, and fisheries, while P80.83 billion was channeled to agri-processing and trading. As part of its intensified support to the agriculture sector, LANDBANK continues to implement regular loan offerings alongside lending programs in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). As of 31 March 2022, LANDBANK has released a total of P12.51 billion under the programs administered for DA, which include the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), the Socialized Credit Program under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SCP-SIDA), the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF), the Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid), and SURE COVID-19. Meanwhile, the Bank’s cumulative loan releases under DAR’s Credit Assistance Program for Program Beneficiaries Development (CAP-PBD) has reached P700 million. LANDBANK remains fully committed towards advancing a more vibrant, productive, and resilient agriculture sector in line with serving the nation.LEARN MORE