Landbank on track to serve 1 million farmers this year
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - December 2, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — State-run Land Bank of the Philippines is on track to meet its target of extending loans to at least one million farmers this year, following intensified lending activities and measures to ease the provision of credit to agriculture workers.

In an interview with reporters, Landbank president and chief executive officer Cecilia Borromeo said the bank is already at 98 percent of its one million target, which was what it committed to President Duterte in a meeting in August.

“We committed to the President that we will assist and serve at least one million farmers this year – we’re at 98 percent already,” Borromeo said.

The Landbank chief noted that when she made the presentation to Duterte last August, the bank had already served about 500,000 farmers. She said Landbank was able to almost double this number in about three months.

She said the bank achieved this feat due to intensified lending efforts, as well as the lowering of interest rates for borrowers in the agriculture sector.

“We reduced the interest rate of our direct lending programs to five percent. Before we had 7.5 percent, 12 percent, various rates. Now we standardized it. It’s five percent,” she said.

Borromeo also expressed confidence that Landbank would be able to double the number of farmers served to two million by next year, as targeted.

During his 4th State of the Nation Address last July, Duterte asked Landbank to concentrate its efforts in the countryside and to go back to its original mandate of helping farmers and fishermen.

In line with this, Landbank committed to expand its loans to agriculture by 15 percent annually until it reaches P350 billion by 2022.

Nevertheless, Borromeo clarified that this directive does not exclude Landbank from making commercial transactions, such as its plan to acquire the Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp. (PDSHC).

“We’re giving really priority to agriculture but that is not to say that we will not anymore do other commercial things or activities that will enhance the profitability of the bank, and therefore enhance our capability to serve more farmers,” she said.

The bank official also expressed hope that Landbank would be able to close the PDSHC deal before the end of the year.

AGRICULTURE WORKERS FARMERS LANDBANK
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