President Benigno Aquino’s promise to allot P300-million in loans for Negros farmers may finally be enjoyed by farmers used to paying from a low of 40 percent to a high of 120 percent to informal lenders, a press release from Task Force Mapalad said.
Aquino gave the Negros farmers, all of them agrarian reform beneficiaries, a much-needed shot in the farm after a meeting on June 14 in Malacanang but it took Land Bank of the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform more than five months to agree on the implementing rules and regulations for the lending program, the press release said.
With the Negros farmers urging the president to give them some financial relief, the LBP, DA and DAR finally agreeing on the terms of reference for the loan program on October 12, the Department of Budget and Management released the P1-billion including the P300 million for Negros farmers, it added.
Rice farmers hanker for loans in September, when they prepare the fields for planting, while the sugar crop year ends in August.
Alberto Jayme, president of TFM-Negros, said they asked Aquino for financial help and he obliged by ordering that the P300 million be provided for Negros where farmers have no access to loans with low interest.
By loosening the strict banking requirements of LBP and the equally stern qualification requisites of DAR, the farmers claimed they will be freed from complete dependence on loan sharks, the press release said.
Instead of extending loans through cooperatives, LBP has acceded to course the money through agrarian reform beneficiaries’ organizations like TFM and its affiliates, the press release said.*