CEBU

Capitol launches ECD program to aid Cebu farmers, fisherfolk

File photo

CEBUANO farmers and fisherfolk get another opportunity to bring their livelihoods back, even expand their businesses further, now that the Capitol’s Enhanced Countryside Development (ECD) Program will finally roll out in the entire Province.

The Cebu Provincial Government, represented by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, signed a memorandum of agreement with three government banks Friday, March 5, 2021 in Pinamungajan town for the program’s implementation.

Through the ECD, farmers and fisherfolk will be provided with funds for their needed capital to restart or improve their businesses.

The funds will be given through a loan program with reasonable interest rates and payback terms from the Landbank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB).

Businesses include farming corn, cassava and other crops; raising native pigs, mud crabs, bangus and others; as well as food processing and manufacturing squash noodles, banana chips, cassava chips and more.

Middleman



The Capitol will also serve as a middleman and connect the farmers and fisherfolk to companies that will buy their products and harvests at an assured price.

It will ensure the “right price for the farmers and the right volume for the buyers,” giving all the proceeds to the farmers, fisherfolk and other micro, small and medium agri-entrepreneurs (MSME).

Food sufficiency



The ECD program aims to reinvigorate the economic activities in the countryside, particularly in the agribusiness sector.

This way, Cebuanos can work in their respective localities and no longer need to go to the urban areas.

ECD expands the Sugbusog and Sugbo Negosyo programs and the revival of Cebu’s tourism industry last year to bring back the economy crushed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also targets to ramp up food production in the Province to ensure food security and sufficiency for the Cebuanos.

Garcia shared that the pandemic highlighted the reality that food production in the Province is not enough.

“Panahon sa pandemya dinha nako nakit-an nga pagka-insufficient sa atong food supply. Nagpailog sa bugas. Naglisod pa’g pangita sa bugas mais,” she said.

Garcia said that over 15 livestock feed mills need about 500,000 metric tons of corn, but the Province’s corn farmers at present can only supply one percent of it. This resulted in importation of corn from other areas such as Mindanao.

She added that Cebu has more than 3,000 hectares of idle lands that can be utilized to increase corn production and lessen the importation.

The governor also revealed that large companies like San Miguel Corp. expressed desire to buy cassava products, raw or processed, from Cebu.

Commitments



To encourage farmers to grow crops in their lands, the Capitol will provide infrastructure projects such as farm-to-market roads and P32 million in post-harvest facilities in strategic areas in the Province.

It will also secure crop insurance for all ECD participating farmers with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC) as well as technical and marketing support, among others.

The three banks, on the other hand, committed an initial P20 billion in agricultural funds for the program. The bank representatives said more funds can be extended, if needed.

“Mu-commit mi bisan pila ka bilyon basta ang mga kinahanglan nga requirements naa, qualified sa program, ug bayran ang utang. (We will commit even up to the billions of pesos so long as the requirements are met and the loans are paid.) We are very willing to help you financially and technically,” PVB Vice President Ofelia Oliva expressed.

DBP will cater to infrastructure projects, LBP for agricultural projects, and PVB for MSMEs.

Now that the MOA has been signed, Provincial Agriculturist Roldan Saragena said they will meet with representatives from the lender banks to finalize the guidelines for the implementation of the program.

They will also meet with city and municipal agriculture officers to identify and prioritize the farmers and fisherfolk organizations that are interested to join the program.

“As long as interesado ang farmers, og unsa ilang ganahan i-venture nga livelihood, atong i-assist. Magbuhat man ta ug screening committee ani,” Saragena said. (So long as farmers are interested, we can assist in whatever livelihood they’d want to venture in.)

“Farmers and fisherfolk should submit their application or letter of intent to the city or municipal agriculture office, and then this will be submitted to the Provincial Agriculture Office for us to screen or review the feasibility. Then, we will submit that to the lender banks,” he added.

Saragena revealed that the agri-MSMEs’ initial response to ECD has been positive as they trooped to the bank representatives present at the event to inquire about the documentary requirements.

Cebu moving forward



Garcia enjoined all town and city mayors, Provincial Board (PB) members, and national government agencies to continue the collaborative work they have started with Sugbusog and Sugbo Negosyo in implementing the ECD program.

“We will need all of you. All hands on deck. All Cebuanos rising up as one niining hiniusa ug nagkahiusang Sugbo,” the governor stated.

“With a sense of purpose, with a sense of continuity, and as always, with a sense of leadership at this time, Cebu must take the lead for the country, for the Philippines,” Garcia stated, emphasizing that “Cebu is moving on and moving forward.”

Present at the historic launching of the ECD program were Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr., Reps. Pablo John “PJ” Garcia for the 3rd District and Wilfredo Caminero for the 2nd District, Cebu PB members, mayors and other local officials.

Officials from the Cooperative Development Authority, Department of Agriculture 7, Department of Tourism 7, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources 7, Department of Trade and Industry 7, National Food Authority, Department of Education, PCIC, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Commission on Audit, and representatives of farmers, fisherfolk and cooperative groups also joined the event. (PR)

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