MANILA, Philippines – Small farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries and fishers and their associations, micro-enterprises and small-medium enterprises (SMEs), the utility sector, and local government units (LGUs) received 35% more loans from the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank) in 2014.
These priority sectors received P331.3 billion ($7.384 billion) in loans, up from P244.6 billion ($5.451 billion) in 2013, representing a record-high share of 85.9% in the bank’s total loans.
“Enabling the growth of our priority sectors remains a priority for us at Land Bank and this is in line with our continuing thrust to support the national government’s efforts to promote inclusive growth,” said Land Bank president and CEO Gilda E. Pico.
She attributed the expansion in loan extension to the bank’s consistent efforts to strengthen credit support to project with high development impact.
Land Bank’s loans to small farmers and fishers increased by 13% to P58.4 billion ($ 1.3 billion) in 2014, from P51.6 billion ($1.15 billion) in the previous year. 793 farmer and fishers cooperatives, 206 countryside financial institutions, and 226 irrigators’ associations received these loans.
Meanwhile, outstanding loans to microenterprises and SMEs grew by 37% to P51.4 billion ($1.14 billion) from P37.5 billion ($835 million) in December 2013.
Loans to the utilities sector reached P52.1 billion ($1.16 billion), a 24% increase from P42.1 billion in 2013, while the bank’s loans for socialized, low cost, and medium cost housing expanded by 38% to P37.3 billion ($831 million) from P27.1 billion ($604 million).
Outstanding loans to LGUs reached P42.9 billion ($956 million), financing various agri-aqua-related projects, priority programs of the national government, and other developmental projects.
Programs for non-accredited farmers
Besides its regular loan programs, Land Bank also works with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide financial assistance to farmers who are not members of accredited cooperatives and are unable to secure loans from lending institutions.
These programs include the Sikat Saka program that provides direct access to credit for small rice farmers who are not yet members of Land Bank-assisted cooperatives.
As of December 2014, P1.2 billion ($26.7 million) in loans were released to 5,904 farmer-borrowers and the income of each beneficiary increased by roughly 65% per annum, per hectare.
Under the Sikat Saka program, small palay farmers can borrow from Land Bank as much as P47,000 ($1,407) per hectare if they are cultivating certified seeds and P52,000 ($1,270) if they are planting hybrid rice.
Sikat Saka was pilot-tested in 2012 in major rice-producing provinces like Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Iloilo and North Cotabato, and has been expanded to cover 45 provinces in the country.
Land Bank is also a partner of the DA, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, and the People’s Credit and Finance Corporation in implementing the Agriculture and Fisheries Financing Program (AFFP), a flexible credit facility that provides agricultural loans to marginalized farmers and fishers from the 20 poorest provinces in the country.
Among the priority provinces for AFFP implementation are Abra, Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga, Masbate, Romblon, Batanes, Benguet, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan, Aurora, and Zambales. – Rappler.com
US1$ = P 44.86