Tuesday, September 25, 2018

DA sets aside P50M for farm loans

QUALITY FISH. Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol shows a Lapu-Lapu from Zambales during TienDA and farmers forum held at Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center in La Trinidad last week. (Milo Brioso)

DEPARTMENT of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol announced another P50 million worth of loans for farmers in the Cordillera Administrative Region.

In 2017, Piñol said the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) was piloted in the Cordilleras with a P46-million fund for distribution to local farmers as soft loans.

“The loans can be used to buy new equipment, farm implements and supplies for farmers under the Benguet Agri – Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC),” said Piñol.

BAPTC chief of operations Violeta Salda reported during the Steering Board meeting last week there were 292 farmers who availed of the loan program which was enough to sustain 67.55 hectares of active farmlands.

Piñol lauded the 100 percent cooperation and participation of the highland farmers in the program which yielded positive results pushing the agriculture chief to infuse P50M to service more from the province and the region.

The DA PLEA program offers loans for farmers at a two percent per annum rate with an 8-year pay period.

Piñol said the PLEA program is seen to facilitate faster delivery of goods and do away with the bidding and procurement process of government.

The secretary said along with the PLEA program is a seminar for farmers on financial literacy which will teach accounting, liquidation and basic bookkeeping, further empowering farmers to become financial managers.

BAPTC is a project of former DA secretary Proceso Alcala and President Benigno Aquino, who envisioned Benguet to be the country’s biggest trading center and pilot the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) free trade agreement.

The P550-million facility is now managed by a Project Steering Committee (PSC) composed of stakeholders and a multisectoral group after the DA turned over management of the facility three years ago.

BAPTC is seen to empower farmers and help improve their way of living and halt their dependence on middlemen and disposers.