More loans will be lent to farmers, amounting to at least P34 million, as two government financial institutions (GFIs) reduced the fee on managing loan funds of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“The said policy complies with the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to make credit affordable to small farmers and fishers,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.

On October 23, 2019, Dar wrote Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, requesting the LandBank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to reduce the fee that they charge to DA on processing and disbursing loans to farmer-clients under three financing programs.

The respective board of directors of the two GFIs approved the request of Secretary Dar on November 5 (DBP) and 6 (LBP), reducing the previous rate of 4.5 percent by one percentage point to 3.5 percent on the three DA financing programs.

These are the: P1-billion (B) credit component of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF); P1-B credit program under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA); and the P1.4-B Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).

“On behalf of millions of farmers, fishers, and agri-entrepreneurs, we cannot thank enough Secretary Dominguez for favorably endorsing our request to LBP and DBP — a concrete manifestation of his continued support to our efforts in modernizing and industrializing the country’s agriculture and fishery sector,” said Secretary Dar.

“Likewise, we thank LBP and DBP president and CEO Cecilia Borromeo and Emmanuel Herbosa, respectively, for their strong and renewed partnership, as we are closer to each other than ever, in providing affordable and accessible credit particularly to small farmers, fishers, other rural folk, countryside entrepreneurs, and local government units,” Dar added.

Under the RCEF, the P1-B credit fund is equally shared by the LBP and DBP, at P500 million each.

The SIDA and ACEF financing programs are both managed by the LBP on DA’s behalf.

According to Dar, the three financing programs aim to make rice, sugarcane, and other farmers and fishers more productive, profitable and prosperous, and globally competitive.

“Now on our fifth month of service, we will continue to count on the support of all sectors to realize our new thinking for agriculture that envisions a food-secure Philippines with prosperous farmers and fisherfolk,” said Dar.

“The recent policy of LBP and DBP would further provide accessible and affordable credit and pave the way to our farmers and fishers attain masaganang ani at mataas na kita,” the DA chief concluded.