With the Department of Agriculture’s focus on easier credit access to farmers, the Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Division conducted a Credit Forum with the various stakeholders in Region I at the DA-Regional Field Office I 5th Floor Conference Room, San Fernando City, La Union.

Aimed at providing updates and better understanding on the procedures, protocols and requirements in availing of the credit programs offered by the DA, representatives from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) thoroughly discussed the guidelines of the various DA credit facility programs offered to farmers and fisherfolks in the region.

Among the credit programs discussed include the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) and the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance – Rice Credit Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF), which provides farmers, collateral-free, easy access and with minimum interest rates credit-window in order to finance their agri-related activities and enterprises.

Meanwhile, giving updates on the status of loans under the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA), the Survival and Recovery (SURE), and the E-SURE financial assistance program; each of the lending center’s representatives including the ACPC from the four provinces in the region presented the amount provided and the number of beneficiaries under the said programs.

Ms. Florie Mae Lucas, ACPC’s Focal Person for Pangasinan and La Union informed that under the PLEA-SURE program, a total of P65.4 million was loaned-out last year benefitting a total of 1,833 medium and small farmers and fisherfolk.

For the SURE Aid assistance program, DA through Land Bank was able to grant an amount of P50M loan for the farmers and fisherfolks in the region with Ilocos Norte having the biggest amount granted with P18,829,000, followed by Pangasinan with P15,790,000.00. Ilocos Sur farmers with P10,980,000 and 4,401,000 for La Union.

As to the repayment rate for the PLEA-SURE program, Ms. Lucas informed the group that there was no repayment yet from the borrowers since their loans will be only maturing in March 2020. Nonetheless, “previous repayment schedule indicated a 96.1% repayment rate in the region with only 3.1% pass due,” Ms. Lucas said.

To further strengthen linkages, the DA-RFO I through AMAD has organized the Regional, Provincial Loan Facilitation Team (RP/LOFTs) led by Ms. Ma. Christine de Leon, the Regional Agri-Credit Desk Officer in the region.

The RPLOFTs was organized to provide the needed technical assistance support to farmers and fishers on credit awareness, loan acquisition, utilization and repayment.