(Photo courtesy of DA)

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is encouraging palay farmers to utilize government’s credit facilities which it vows are now easier to access.

DA-Palawan Research Extension Service (PRES) station chief Milagros Cacal, appearing Saturday in “Behind the News” program of Palawan News, explained that government credit facilities offer a better deal to farmers, whom she said often approach traders and middlemen for loans in exchange for selling their rice harvest at a low price.

“Dini-discourage na rin natin kung pupwede lang yong mangungutang sila sa traders. They have no choice na kapag harvesting na, diretso na sa traders ‘yong kanilang ani. Isa pa nating pinapakiusap ay i-diversify ‘yong kanilang farm na hindi lang sila aasa sa rice lang,” she said.

Cacal said the DA is offering different production loans through its financial conduit Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

She said that if farmers will learn to diversify their farms, they will not only earn profits from rice production.

“Meron pa naman tayo na binibigay naman, magpapatala lang sila sa kanilang municipal agriculturist, P15,000 ang ibibigay sa kanila, without interest for eight years nila babayaran ‘yon. Unti na lang ang idadagdag nila sa per hectare basis nila,” she said.

Cacal said that farmers from the different towns of the province might coordinate and inquire with their municipal agriculturists and farm technicians.

She suggested that if it will be possible, farmers must form themselves into a group or association so the support of the agency will be extended to many beneficiaries.

“If possible, dapat ay in groups or association para hindi ‘yong paisa-isa lang ang matutulungan. Kumbaga walang iwanan, sama-sama, ‘yan ang sinusulong natin. Let’s say, mag-re-request ka lang isang harvester, ilang areas ba ng iyong farmer, whereas kung association, itong isang harvester ay makapag-benefit doon sa ilang members ng association, sila ang magma-manage noon,” she said.

Cacal said that the agency is intensifying its agri-entrepreneurship through rural financing or production loan support.