PILI, Camarines Sur --- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bicol through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) has released a total of P140.13 million loan assistance to 2,045 marginalized small farmers and fisherfolk (MSFF) and 14 agri-fishery based micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in the region under its Expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project (SURE COVID-19).
According to DA-Bicol Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD) chief Adelina A. Losa, as of July 9, 2020, the DA-ACPC has already downloaded P51.13 million-worth of credit funds to four rural banks and two cooperatives regionwide, which will serve as lending conduits in implementing the loan program.
Among the DA-ACPC’s partner lending conduits in Bicol are the: Rural Bank of Paracale in Camarines Norte; Banco Santiago de Libon (BSDL) and its branches in Camarines Sur and Albay; Rural Bank of Guinobatan in Albay; Rural Bank of Pilar in its Albay and Sorsogon branches; Irosin Market Vendors and Farmers Development Cooperative in Sorsogon; and Gubat Saint Anthony Cooperative (GSAC) in its branches in Albay and Sorsogon.
Loans funded under the DA’s SURE COVID-19 program were already released to 720 qualified MSFFs in Camarines Norte, 30 in Camarines Sur, 292 in Albay, and 1,003 in Sorsogon who till less than three hectares of land.
As of July 13, 2020, a total of P89 million worth of SURE COVID-19 loans were approved for 14 MSEs in the region to finance their working capital for palay procurement and acquisition of delivery equipment. Priority was given to MSEs located within provinces that have existing lending conduits to facilitate loan program application and availment.
MSEs that participate in DA’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program particularly the accredited rice processing centers (RPCs) were also prioritized. These include the CamSur Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Pili, Camarines Sur; Magarao Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Magarao, Camarines Sur; San Agustin-San Ramon Agrarian Reform Farmers Cooperative (SARFC);
Ambos Camarines Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Talisay, Camarines Norte; Capuy Basud Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CABAMUCO) in Sorsogon City; Maporong Farmers Association in Oas, Albay; and the Nabua West Multi Purpose Cooperative in Nabua, Camarines Sur.
Other recipients of the DA’s easy access credit program were the: Pecuaria Development Cooperative in Bula, Camarines Sur; Sampaloc Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Gainza, Camarines Sur; Camarines Norte Development Cooperative in Daet, Camarines Norte; Maymatan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Goa, Camarines Sur; Labo Progressive Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Labo, Camarines Norte, FFS Palay Check Palayamanan Farmers Association in Polangui, Albay, and the Barcelona Livelihood Development Cooperative in Barcelona, Sorsogon.
“As of now, most of the farmers and MSEs especially the RPCs are short of capital to sustain their operations because of the negative impact of the pandemic to the economy. This loan assistance will serve as their capital in order for us to achieve our shared goal of providing sustainable, affordable and accessible food,” Losa said.
She added that attaining food security is essential to help reduce the consumers’ anxiety caused by the threat of Covid-19. She appealed to the beneficiaries to use the loan aid in food production to multiply its benefits. Moreover, she reminded them to strive for timely and 100 percent repayment to establish good credit standing.
The Nabua West Multi Purpose Cooperative, an accredited RPC in Nabua, Camarines Sur with 350 members received P5 million loan assistance for the acquisition of delivery truck and working capital for the procurement of palay.
According to Julian B. Abonal Jr., the cooperative’s chairman, through the SURE Aid, they were able to buy, store and deliver farmer-members’ palay produce to various markets including the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, in neighboring towns and in Naga City.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re limited with mobility but with the SURE Aid and Recovery Project, we actually got the working capital needed to keep on moving with our business. It made us a working enterprise during the time of pandemic. The farmers benefitted actually because of our buying capacity. Malaking tulong po yung SURE Aid hindi lang sa aming co-members kundi pati na rin sa buong Rinconada at sa iba pang lugar na dineliveran namin dito sa Bicol,” he said.
“Pinapaabot po namin ang malaking pasasalamat sa DA lalung-lalo na po sa ACPC at sa AMAD dito sa Bicol. Dahil sa kanila nabigyan po kami ng programang ito at nahikayat po kami ng maayos na maka-avail ng loan na ito, yung mga followup nila, yung pag-guide nila para makatulong para sa mga kooperatiba and end-user na maliliit na magsasaka. Labis po kaming nagpapasalamat. Dahil sa binigay na SURE Aid malaki ang nakikita kong oportunidad sa amin na lalo kaming lalaki at makakabayad kami ng husto at maaga ang loan na ito. Naga-guarantee po namin na makakabayad po kami,” he added.
Sorsogon-based Capuy Basud Multi-Purpose Cooperative (CABAMUCO) manager Gloria Jardin also expressed her gratitude to the DA for the P5 million-worth of SURE Aid loan assistance they received saying, “Ito ay napakalaking tulong lalung-lalo na sa aming maliliit na kooperatiba na kulang ang puhunan at lubhang naapektuhan ng rice tariffication.”
SURE COVID-19 is the DA’s emergency and recovery loan assistance program, which aims to provide MSFFs and MSEs with working capital to tide them over amid the quarantine caused by the Covid-19 health crisis.
Under the expanded loan program, individual farmers and fisherfolk are entitled to P25,000 non-collaterized loan at zero interest and payable in 10 years.
Meanwhile, eligible MSEs, whether single proprietorship, partnership, corporation, cooperative or association may borrow up to P10 million at zero interest and payable in five years. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V with reports from Engr. Norbert Bryan S. Elgario, DA-AMAD and Michael Jordan O. Roquid, ACPC-Bicol Focal Person)