Commercial hog growers in areas free from the African Swine Fever (ASF) who want to expand their operation can now avail of a loan from the the P15 billion fund allocated by the Land Bank of the Philippines, the agriculture department said.

In a virtual presser of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday, the P15-billion Special Window and Interim Support to Nurture Hog Enterprises (SWINE) Lending Program of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) is now available to provide financing support to the swine industry to help the country’s food security, particularly on the supply of pork. Commercial hog growers under green, yellow, and pink-colored zones in ASF map can avail the loan program. 

Under the program, hog growers in Palawan can avail of the loan as the province remains under the green zone as it is ASF-free since the outbreak in the Philippines back in 2019.

“Sa ilalim ng ating swine lending program, tayo ay makakahiram ng hanggang 80 porsyento ng ating total project cost o pangangailangan. Iyong 20 percent ay magiging equity ng ating borrower at may interest na three percent fixed for three years,” said assistant vice president Edgardo Luzano for the Program Management Department (PMD) of LBP. 

“Actually, ang ating swine lending program ay available nationwide, ‘yon nga lang na dapat ang area ay nasa green, yellow at pink zones. Anywhere sa ating bansa ay pwede tayo magpahiram under this swine lending program,” he explained.

Eligible borrowers are commercial hog raisers classified and registered as cooperatives or farmers associations; Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); large enterprises, and corporations. 

The loan period depends on the desired amount, he added. 

“Kung ito ay working capital, this is short term, pwedeng isang taon lang. Kung ito permanent working capital, this will be up to five years at kung ito ay building construction o acquisition of other fixed assets, depende sa projected cash flow,” Luzano said. 

“Dito sa ating swine lending program ay may mga requirements para ma-ensure natin ‘yong biosecurity at kakayahan ng ating mga potential borrowers to implement the project. Kasama rito na dapat may certification ng local government unit na nasa biosecurity level one at kasama ‘yong certification ng Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) na ang project area ay na-release na from ASF quarantine at ito ay nasa green, yellow, and pink zones,” he added.

Training certificates that will be given by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) are also among the requirements before availing the loan program. 

For start-ups, borrowers must have contract growing agreement with integrators and must have experience or relevant training in commercial hog operation. 

“Kung ang gustong mangutang ay tinatawag natin na start-up o nagnanais pa lang pumasok sa hog production o hog farming, kailangan siya ay may contact growing agreement sa isang integrator at ito naman ay para masiguro natin ang dagdag na tulong-teknikal, at ang assurance ng market o bibili ng kanilang produkto. Kailangan siya ay mayroon din pagsasanay sa commercial hog operation,” he said.

For existing hog enterprises, growers must have three-year track record of profitable operations prior to the outbreak of ASF on July 25, 2019.

DA assistant secretary Noel Reyes added that the agriculture department will also invest P400 million for its sentinel program as also part of hog repopulation program.

Based on the sentinel protocol, the DA will have the provision of sentinel package, while the LGU will give support through technical assistance and monitoring; and farmers for raising of sentinel animals. 

“Kaya meron tayong sentinel program na ipinapatupad ang Department of Agriculture kagaya ng sinabi sa mapa, na kung wala nang ASF incidents in the last 90 days, iyan ay lalagyan ng sentinel, na mga biik para masiguro na wala na talagang ASF,” Reyes said. 

The sentinel package per participating farmer includes three to five piglets per participating farm; free feeds and supplies; and anti-viral agents, amounting to P50,000 per package. 

“Mag-i-invest muna ng pera ang Department of Agriculture, ng P400 million sa iba-ibang cluster na barangays para ma-prove, ma-ensure na wala nang ASF sa areas na ‘yon, makikita sa mapa ‘yon,” he said. 

Meanwhile, aside from swine lending program, Land Bank also said that under Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), there are already P4.86 billion in cumulative loans extended to 38,506 small farmers and fishers as of February 2021. 

The eligible borrowers are individual farmers and fishers; micro and small enterprises (MSEs); farmers and fishers cooperative and their associations with loanable amount up to 90 percent of total project cost, but not to exceed P1 million per individual farmer or fisherfolk; and P5 million per project loan per farmers’ and fisherfolk cooperative and association, and MSE at interest rate of fixed two percent per annum.