DAVAO CITY - Rice farmers will now be able to draw cash advances from the government for their pre-harvest requirements – from planting to other crop-related activities – starting this cropping season, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said yesterday.
He said the credit facility, which has been established by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) and the National Food Authority, was aimed at freeing farmers from the shackles of loan sharks and traders, who charge them usurious rates.
Both the ACPC and the NFA are under the Department of Agriculture.
Piñol said the credit facility, dubbed the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA), will only be available for farmers who would agree to sell their harvest to the NFA.
“The PLEA program is the government’s intervention to provide farmers an option to their "cash advance" requirements which they usually get from loan sharks and local traders who charge between 5 to 10 percent interest rates per month,” he added.
He said the loan is collateral-free and has a 3-percent interest over a six-month period. Each farmer will get as much as P50,000.
“(The loan is) payable after the harvest season,” he said.
The credit facility will be officially launched in Sultan Kudarat province today.
The next cropping season would soon start but this early, many farmers were already starting to prepare their fields for planting.
Piñol said farmers wanting to avail of the loan would have to go to the NFA office or buying station nearest them to register.
“As soon as s/he is registered, the DA, through the Information and Communication Technology Service, will conduct a validation of his/her farm location, the size of land, and projected production through aerial mapping, geo-tagging, and geo-referencing,” Piñol said.
He said that once the validation is done, the availing farmer would then be asked to enter into a marketing agreement with the NFA.
The agreement specifies that the farmer would only sell his harvest to the NFA and that the grains agency would be allowed to deduct from the proceeds of his produce the amount of loan that he had obtained.
Piñol said all crops funded under the PLEA loan would be automatically insured under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.*PNA
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