Department of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar led the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing of the Ilocos Norte Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Program (INAFES) and the distribution of Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) cash cards to farmers on February 28, 2020 at the Centennial Area, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

INAFES is a program of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte showcasing an innovative model to strengthen research-extension-farmer/fisherfolk linkages by sharing science-based knowledge and technologies from various institutions with farming and fishing families, rural communities and agriculture based enterprise.

According to Ilocos Norte Governor Mathew Joseph Marcos Manotoc, the INAFES major programs include the development of agro-enterprise and location specific technologies, capacity building, information and knowledge sharing, social mobilization and institutional strengthening that will be managed by the Province in collaboration with the DA, Local Government Units (LGU), Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and other partner agencies.

“We are confident that this initiative will accelerate agriculture and fisheries modernization in the Province and the whole country and bring prosperity and inclusive growth to our smallholder farmers and fisherfolk,” Gov. Manotoc said.

Meanwhile, Sec. Dar announced during the program the new loan program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) which is the Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA). It is a loan program for the millennials/youth aged 18-30 years old who have interest in agripreneurship. They can loan up to Php300,000.00 – Php500,000.00 which offers 0% interest and payable for five (5) years to finance working capital for start up or existing agri-based projects of young entrepreneurs and agri-fishery graduates

“This KAYA loan program is one way to encourage and attract our children and the millennials to continue the agriculture industry, there is 1 Billion allocated fund for this program and it was already given to ACPC and our conduit partners” Sec. Dar said.

Another loan program is the Agri Negosyo Loan Program for the small and micro agri-fishery enterprises to finance income generating agri-fishery activities and for working capital. Micro and small enterprises include sole proprietors, corporations, associations and cooperatives whose owners are marginalized farmers/fisherfolk.

Said program features on-lending and direct lending schemes to be implemented by the Government and Financial Institutions (GFIs) that offers Php300,000 – Php15M, 0% interest with up to 3.5% per annum service fee payable for 5 years.

Meanwhile, Sen. Imee R. Marcos was also present during the program and showed her support to the agriculture sector. She endorsed the INAFES to DA during her term as Governor of Ilocos Norte.

Along with the program is the distribution of the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) to 19,927 farmer beneficiaries in the province who were affected by the price drop in the farm gate price of palay.Said program is not a loan program but an unconditional cash transfer to farmers.

After the event, Sec. Dar also met with farmers groups in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte for a dialogue.#