Landbank extends P15 million loan to Tarlac rice farmers
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Bank of the Philippines has released more than P15 million in loans to rice farmers in Tarlac under the Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers (SURE Aid).

In a statement, Landbank said over 1,000 rice farmers in Tarlac received a loan assistance of P15,000 each under the SURE Aid program, which was launched by Landbank and the Department of Agriculture(DA).

The loan was distributed by Landbank through cash cards which can be used in the 10 existing automated teller machines (ATM) of the bank within Tarlac City. Landbank said it also brought a mobile ATM to the site which can also be used to withdraw the fund.

The SURE Aid program is targeted at rice farmers who are tilling one hectare of land and below, and are affected by the initial impact of lower palay prices.

It offers a one-time, zero-interest, no collateral loan of P15,000 payable up to eight years.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced that the DA Agricultural Credit Policy Council(ACPC) is allocating an additional P1 billion for the SURE Aid program. This is on the top the initial budget for the program of P1.5 billion.

“The amount we set aside was P1.5 billion. That’s not enough. It can only accommodate 100,000 farmers out of the 600,000 farmers that we have under the category,” Dar said.

“In effect, we will now be able to give to almost 170,000 farmers,” he said.

The DA and Landbank earlier rolled out SURE Aid in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija where more than 1,000 rice farmers from Nueva Ecija and Tarlac received their SURE Aid Landbank cash cards containing the assistance.

Landbank is in charge of managing the P2.5 billion DA-ACPC fund by releasing the loans through either direct lending to farmers or through service conduits in undbanked and unserved areas.

The DA-ACPC said it would provide Landbank a validated list of farmers eligible for the loan assistance and DA-identified service conduits.

Apart from the SURE Aid program, Landbank earlier annouced that it is allocating P10 billion for lending to local government units, particularly for the procurement of palay from local farmers to cushion the impact of the continued drop in palay prices.

The Palay Alay sa Magsasaka ng Lalawigan (PALAY ng Lalawigan) Program will  assist provincial, municipal and city governments of rice-producing areas nationwide to procure palay from small farmers, with a low interest rate of two percent per annum.

Landbank said it is considering aligning its pricing with the recent announcement of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Governing Board that pegged the price of wet palay at P16per kilo and dry palay at P19 per kilo.

“This is a direct response of the bank, together with the Department of Agriculture, to the call of the national government for a concerted effort of government agencies serving the agriculture sector to firm up its support for our palay farmers in the wake of the impact of lower palay prices,”Borromeo said.

Local farmgate prices of palay have been dropping since the implementation of the rice tariffication law last March.

Based on latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority, average price of palay fell 4.4 percent to P16.68 per kilo as of end-August.

This is an annual decrease of 27.4 percent from its level of P22.98 per kilo in the same week the previous year.

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