About 500 rice farmers who will sell their produce to the National Food Authority (NFA) may take advantage of a P50, 000 worth of loan from the Department of Agriculture with low-interest rates and without any collateral.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol bared that the department has set aside P200 million fund for the implementation of the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) for Rice Farmers at the Southern Philippines Grain Center in Sultan Kudarat.
Breaking the cycle
The said program aims to provide secure credit access to farmers which they can use for rice productions with only three percent interest.
Furthermore, the PLEA for Rice Farmers also intends to break the usual cycle of farmers borrowing money from loan sharks and traders with ten percent monthly interest. According to Piñol, payments for these loans usually takes a big chunk out of the farmers’ income come harvest time. In such situations, farmers are left with no choice but to borrow money again to prepare their land for the next planting season.
This particular PLEA program will provide loans for both individual farmers and to those who are members of a cooperative or an association.
The DA will determine the amount of loan to be granted to an applicant based on his expected harvest, as projected by the department. Once approved, the proceeds of his loan will be released in full through a local conduit bank.
More income for the farmers
NFA will be buying the clean and dry ‘palay’ at P17 per kilo with an incentive for the farmer of P3.70 per kilo, after which, the loan will be deducted from the proceeds.
Beneficiaries of the program will be monitored by DA. Satellite images and aerial photos pinpointing the exact location of the applicants’ farms will back up their basic information.
It is harvest season, at this time, for farmers from Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Saranggani, and in other areas of North and South Cotabato. Those who have finished harvesting their ‘palay’ are already preparing their farms for the next planting season.