The pronouncement was made by Agriculture Secretary Piñol in his recent visit to this town and meeting with the farmers, particularly the onion farmers who scored this year a rebound from their three successive losses in their production efforts of this spice crop.
Piñol said his department is making available an initial funding of P20 million coming from the DA budget as soon as the mechanism for this special program is finalized and the proper documentation of the farmers are put in place.
“You can get as much a P50,000 loan each,” the agriculture secretary said. “No collateral will be required, the repayment is after two to three years, at it will be at a low interest rate.”
Piñol said he is aware that financing the capital for production is one of the pillars in ensuring the farmer’s productivity. But current realities indicate, he added, that easy access to credit is not readily available “so we will try this scheme.”
He added the other pillars are technologies, which include good seeds, irrigation, and marketing.
He asked Mayor Ricardo Padilla and municipal agriculture officer Jackielou Gallarde of this town to hasten the selection of a credit cooperative through which the fund will be coursed. He also asked them to implement the issuance of identification cards and passbooks to the farmers.
“In this loaning project, we will give time for the farmers to earn first before they repay the loan, so it is commodity-based and its interest rate is not more than six percent per year. We know that the farmers need time to recover from their initial capital, so it is necessary to give them a window of two to three years to repay their loan,” the agriculture secretary said.
He disclosed that the DA has lots of money to be spent for the farmer’s productivity but it has no mandate to give a direct loan to the farmers. A conduit is necessary to provide the fund, hence, the modelling of a loaning scheme that can be used for other towns or cities latter, he emphasized.
He said he was hoping that Congress will pass soon an institutionalized scheme, in which he proposed, that will provide financing for the farmer’s production needs that will be on very easy terms for them. He said that what deter farmers from seeking production loans from lending institution, like the regular banks, are the requirements for putting up a collateral, signing of many documents, and repayment of the loan after the production cycle.
In addition, Piñol said he is exerting efforts to make farmers gain more profit from their labor rather than intermediaries who use only their capital for gaining much from the tedious labor and investments of the farmers. He said he wants the farmers or their farmers’ group to have easy access to the market.
“I asked a study on how much traders earn from buying the palay produce of farmers and selling it as milled rice and found out that they make P50 million to P60 million per cycle from the harvest of 5,000 hectares,” Piñol said. “If farmers can be empowered to produce, process and market their produce, it would mean bigger profit for them.”
“Ayaw ko lang ng lokohan sa ginagawa nating pagbabago (I just don’t want any shenanigan for the improvements that we are instituting),” Piñol said. “We will ban those from receiving benefit from the government if they are found cheating or making fool of our programs,” he said.
Later in Talavera, Nueva Ecija Piñol said palay harvest is doing very well this year.
He said reports of first quarter palay harvest showed an increase of 210,000 metric tons in 997,000 hectares over the same period last year.
“We are putting in place some new projects and strategies on how to achieve bigger rice harvest so that our dream of attaining rice sufficiency can be realized,” Piñol said.