(File Photo courtesy of Tenggoy Sarmiento)

The Department of Agriculture (DA) will fully roll out this year its Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) non-collateralized credit intervention scheme in Palawan for marginalized farmers and fishermen to increase their production.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) assistant regional director Roberto Abrera said Monday that the PLEA is a credit facility that was designed to address the financial needs of small farmers and fishermen by providing them loans that are easy to access.

“Ang layunin nito ay bawasan ‘yong subsidy, ‘yong mga libreng pagbibigay ng inputs na kadalasan ay di pala kailangan ng mga magsasaka o mangingisda natin. Loan facility ito na ipinatutupad para mabawan din ‘yong pag-avail nila ng mga 5-6 na pautang na may mataas na interest,” Abrera said.

(This aims to downgrade the subsidy, the provision of free inputs that our farmers and fishermen don’t appear to need. This is a loan facility that is being implemented to also prevent them from availing the 5-6 loan scheme that imposes high interest.)

Abrera said PLEA is being implemented by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), an attached agency of the agricultural department, with the help of the Philippine Craft Insurance Corporation (PCIC).

He said the ACPC would tap conduits to make the loans available to the marginalized farmers and fishermen because they have a lending system in place.

The conduits will select, evaluate, approve, and collect loan payments from eligible borrowers under the agreed guidelines.

The non-collateralized loan will only apply a six percent interest (or 0.5 percent per month) yearly so farmers and fishermen can finance the production of crops, poultry, livestock, and fisheries projects.

Abrera added further that the interest will not be deducted in advance from the loan.

“Ito ‘yong intervention namin ngayon para sa ating fisherfolks at farmers. Sa conduit idadaan ‘yong ilo-loan nila kaya mas maganda kung member sila ng cooperative o association (This is our intervention for fisherfolks and farmers. The easy loan will be coursed through the conduits so it will be better if they are members of cooperatives or associations),” he said.

Each household can only have one borrower of a loan at a time and can avail of a maximum loan of up to P50,000 for short term crops and commodities and up to P150,000 for high-value and long-gestating crops.

Farmers and fishermen who wish to avail of the easy loan must pass the credit and background investigation of the lending conduit and must have a good credit standing if he or she is an existing borrower.

They should also be enrolled in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), must have shared capital contributions to the cooperatives where they are members, and must attend loan orientation and pre-membership seminars.

“Dapat poorest of the poor na mangingisda at magsasaka ang makinabang at dapat nasa registry system sila ng local government unit o national offices. Mahaba-haba ang payment period kaya di sila mahihirapan (They should be poorest of the poor farmers and fishermen and should be in the registry system of the local government unit or national offices. The payment period is long so they will not have a hard time),” he said.

Abrera said the loan maturity depends on the crop or commodity, and loan repayment schedule is going to depend on the cash flow.

If loan repayment has been completed, borrowing fishermen and farmers can re-avail of new credits without background investigations.

“Kaya merong participation ang PCIC kasi halimbawa nabagyo ang mga crops nila or nasira ang kanilang mga bangka dahil sa bagyo, there is free insurance covering the insurable agro-fishery crops or commodities (The PCIC has a participation because, for example, the typhoon affects their crops or destroy their boats there is free insurance covering the insurable agro-fishery crops or commodities),” he said.

Anyone interested may check http://www.acpc.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/PLEA-Brochure-3.3-2.jpg for information and other details.