LANDBANK boosts support to farmers, fishers through retail loans

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Land Bank of the Philippines is further expanding its retail lending programs as it intensifies its support for small farmers and fishers.

“As we seek to reach more farmers nationwide, we are heavily focusing on making retail loans accessible, especially to those who are not members of associations or cooperatives and are unable to obtain loans from  formal lending institutions on their own,” said LANDBANK President and CEO Cecilia C. Borromeo.

While it continues to channel financing support to the sector through partner conduits such as farmers and fishers’ cooperatives, irrigators’ associations, and countryside financial institutions, the Bank is aggressively strengthening its retail lending programs to provide more individual borrowers with direct access to credit.

 

LANDBANK-funded programs

A newly-enhanced direct lending program is the Accessible Funds For Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBs) Program, which will specifically cater to ARBs engaged in production of rice, corn, and high-value crops. The loan can also be used for the acquisition of small farm implements.

The Program is a partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform, which will provide the Bank with a list of ARBs and mobilize borrowers for loan orientation and financial literacy seminars prior to loan release to ensure ARBs are equipped with the basic knowledge to manage their finances and learn about farm planning and budgeting.

LANDBANK also implements the Empowering Barangays in Remote Areas through Credit and Enterprise (EMBRACE), a direct lending program with relaxed features and requirements for small farmers and fishers, as well as microenterprises and small enterprises (MSEs) in unserved municipalities. Eligible projects include agricultural crop, livestock, and fishery production, as well as agri-enterprise and other livelihood projects.

 

Support for National Government Programs

LANDBANK also continues to strengthen its partnership with the Department of Agriculture as it implements retail lending programs for farmers, in pursuit of the government’s thrust towards improved agricultural productivity.

A continuing partnership with DA is on the implementation of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) – a special purpose fund which aims to increase the productivity of individual farmers and fishers, and their cooperatives and associations, as well as MSMEs, through credit assistance. Since the Program was launched in 2018, LANDBANK has already released P96.6 million in loans to 172 borrowers, which helped finance their crop production requirements and purchase of agri-machineries, equipment, and facilities.

In line with the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, the Bank also works with DA on the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. LANDBANK and the Development Bank of the Philippines will each make P500 million in credit assistance available to small palay farmers. The financing assistance will come with minimal interest rate and minimum collateral requirements.

LANDBANK also continues to implement the Sikat Saka Program, which provides direct credit and integrated support services to small palay and corn farmers who are members of Irrigators Associations or endorsed by Farmers Organizations. Sikat Saka covers 45 major rice-producing provinces and 11 corn-producing provinces in the country.

Since its launch in 2012, the Program has already benefited 16,174 small farmers, with cumulative loan releases at P8.535 billion as of end-April.  Outstanding loans of 9,630 farmers as of the same period amounted to P909.93 million.  Farmer-borrowers are likewise trained on credit discipline and financial management to teach them how to save, pay loans on time, and better manage their finances.

Also a continuing program is the Socialized Credit Program under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA) – a direct lending program funded by the Sugar Regulatory Administration specifically targeted at individual sugarcane farmers, block farms, and common service centers. As of April 2019, the Program has so far benefited 276 borrowers, with cumulative loan releases amounting to P27.738 million.

“We continue to place utmost priority on providing responsive and relevant programs, especially to our priority sectors, as we work towards promoting growth that is inclusive and sustainable, especially in the countryside,” Borromeo added.

Apart from credit support, LANDBANK also provides technical assistance such as financial literacy and capability-building seminars to make sure borrowers are equipped with basic financial knowledge that will allow them to optimize their loans to improve their income and boost their productivity.

LANDBANK remains the biggest credit provider to small farmers and fishers among government financial institutions.