Department of Agriculture offers P100-million loans to farmers near Laguna Lake

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture is extending P100 million worth of loans to farmers in Laguna and Rizal in a bid to boost rice production.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said rice and vegetable farmers in communities around Laguna Lake would have access to a P100 million credit and would prioritize the implementation of the agency’s solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) program.

The repayment rate of farmers in the area to the initial P45 million loan facility granted by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council’s Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program is 98 percent.

“The additional loan amount will be available immediately, while the SPIS will be constructed this year and the farm machinery and equipment will be delivered starting next month,” Piñol said.

Most of the rice farming areas around the 91,000-hectare Laguna Lake, the biggest inland body of water in the country, are still dependent on rainfall for irrigation.

“Those who could afford to buy diesel-powered water engine have to spend at least P15,000 in fuel costs per hectare per harvest to be able to irrigate their farms,” Piñol said.

“That would mean that if a farmer harvests four metric tons per hectare, one fourth of his harvest will have to be spent for irrigation leaving him with only three MT from which he will get his expenses for seeds, fertilizers and labor costs,” he added.

The DA-Regional Office is already identifying all areas around the lake which needs the SPIS.

“With the approval of my proposal to undertake initial negotiations with the Israeli government for a P44 billion solar irrigation program in the country, the areas around the lake could be turned into a wide production area for rice and other crops,” Piñol said.

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