Farmers and fishermen must be given much attention especially that they are considered food security frontliners and they too are essential in the fight against Covid-19. To ensure that they can produce the food supply needs of the country, the Department of Agriculture, through the Agriculture Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC), approved a one-billion peso loan for marginalized members of the agriculture and fishery sectors that includes farmers, fishermen, and small and micro agri-fishery enterprises.
This financial program is part of a bigger project of the Department of Agriculture which is the SURE Aid and Recovery Project, in support of the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19″, or “Plant, Plant, Plant Program.” The aim of this initiative is to increase the productivity in farms and ensure ample food supplies during the Covid-19 national disaster.
The income of many industries including those in the agriculture sector were seriously damaged by the introduction of enhanced quarantine. The agriculture sector is in desperate need of help to cope with financial challenges caused by this pandemic. Thus, this program involves providing loan assistance to small farmers, fisherfolk, and small and micro agri-fishery enterprises that will be used as working capital to maintain and continue operations in the agriculture industry.
Small and mid-size enterprises, whether they are a partnership, single proprietorship, corporation or cooperative/association, are eligible to loan up to ten million pesos at 0%, payable up to five years. At the same time, individual fishers and farmers can lend up to twenty-five thousand pesos at 0%, payable in ten years, without collateral. For each farm or fisher household is allowed only one borrower. Those who are currently participating in the Department of Agriculture’s “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita Program” will be the ones given priority.
The DA-ACPC has partnered with 230 existing lending firms nationwide to ensure the implementation of the financial assistance program. Among these partner-organizations are government and rural banks, cooperative banks, viable NGOs, cooperatives and associations.
The Philippines’ farmers, fishermen, and agri-fishery enterprises are vital in the country’s economy and survival against the pandemic. They are the main source of stable food supplies especially for those in urban centers like Metro Manila. The danger of hunger is as grave as the Covid-19 pandemic. This is why it is important that these members of the agriculture sector are empowered and provided with the means to continue supplying and delivering people’s needs.
In addition to the loans that the government can offer, there are also micro-financing firms that can help farmers, fishers, and agri-fishery SMEs. Most of these private lending organizations do not require guarantors, collateral, and numerous documents. Borrowers do not have to visit the physical office, wait in line for their turn, and standby for a couple of weeks before the loan is approved. However, if applying for a loan in the office is more convenient, that is also possible.
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