MANILA - Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Friday said his department would allot P5.5 billion in loans for small and medium entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector.
Dar said in a webinar that among all micro, small and medium enterprises in the country, only 1 percent is composed of those involved in agriculture, forestry and fishing.
With the country facing the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges in rice sufficiency, he said it was time to “unlock the sector of agriculture, through agribusiness,” citing current loan programs being offered to different sectors of the society through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council or ACPC.
SURE AID PROGRAM
The Survival and Recovery Program or SURE AID aims to provide emergency financial assistance to farmers and fisherfolk affected by calamities or disasters. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was expanded to provide financial assistance to about 40,000 small farmers and fisherfolk.
Under the program, there is the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkain Sapat” (ALPAS), which aims to provide financial assistance to 150 to 200 or more micro and small enterprises, depending on their loan amount, according to ACPC executive director Jocelyn Badiola.
As of last April, ACPC has released loans to a total of 164,274 beneficiaries.
Small farmers and fishers who are registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) may apply for loans of up to P25,000. It is payable for up to 10 years with zero interest and no collateral.
The RSBSA is a database of farmers, fisherfolk and farm laborers that is used by the DA and its attached agencies and bureaus in identifying beneficiaries of its various programs.
Micro and small enterprises, on the other hand, may take loans of up to P10 million. It is payable for up to 5 years with zero interest.
KAPITAL ACCESS FOR YOUNG AGRIPRENEURS or KAYA
A loan facility for young agripreneurs aged 18 to 30 and graduates of formal or non-formal schooling, this program targets younger Filipinos to be key players in ensuring affordability and availability of food supply. The aim of the program is to finance capital requirements of their start-ups or existing farm-fishery business.
A borrower may loan up to P500,000 pesos, with zero interest and no collateral. The loaned amount is payable for up to 5 years.
Borrowers need to present a concrete business plan as one of the requirements.
This program offers zero-interest loans to finance capital requirements of individuals who are beyond 30 years old including small farmers and fisherfolk, organizations, repatriated migrant workers and micro and small enterprises that are engaged in agriculture and fishery projects.
A borrower may loan up to P15 million, with zero interest. It is payable in 5 years.
“We need to transform farmers towards a market-oriented economy, following a value-chain approach and looking at opportunities of higher value agriculture to mainstreaming them to commercial agriculture is necessary. And you need innovation and technology to reinvest gains so you can consider innovation system as an engine,” Dar said.
Dar said a total of P693 million has been loaned to 99 micro and small enterprise borrowers, while P852 million pesos have been disbursed for marginal farmers and fishers.
The DA has also opened the “Business Education in Agriculture” or BEAg that is open not only to millennials but also to those who have ideas that could help agriculture and enhance agribusiness to translate that to group of concepts.