New farmers credit program effective in Benguet


LA TRINIDAD, Benguet –  Cordillera vegetable farmers fully paid their production loan amounting to P6.1 million.

Four farmer groups with the first matured loan repaid the said borrowed credit by late 2017. The initial payment is a part of a P43.6 million loan fund downloaded to the 14 lending conduits for the vegetable farmers of Benguet under the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC). The four successful farmers’ groups are the Cattubo Multipurpose Cooperative (MPC) in Atok; Lengawan Indigenous Farmers MPC (LIFCC) in Buguias; Pakiya MPC in Bokod; and Benguet Traders MPC, a province-wide farmer group.

Kristle Ann S. Balingan, Focal Person of the ACPC Benguet Satellite Office said that the farmer borrowers paid their loan before its maturity date. “This is the first group of lending conduits that were given 6 months to repay their loans and they paid it before that,” she said.

PLEA as a loaning system

PLEA is a special credit facility designed to address the financial needs of marginal and small farmers and fisher folk for a fast, convenient and affordable credit. A non-collateralized loans for agri-fishery production will be provided through cooperative banks, cooperatives and non-government organizations (NGOs) as credit delivery channels (lending conduits). PLEA imposes just only six percent interest annually which goes to the conduit banks or farmers coop.

Those who are qualified to avail or eligible lending conduits are the type 1: cooperative banks, cooperatives and NGOs that are currently accredited under any existing partnership under the ACPC lending programs such as Land Bank of the Philippines and type 2:  cooperatives, farmers and fisherfolk organizations, and NGOs that are not qualified as Type 1 conduits but must have been endorsed by the Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center (BAPTC), Department of Agriculture (DA) – CAR and/or the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO).

Qualified lending conduits are those endorsed by BAPTC, DA Regional Office, and the MAO. After the endorsement, ACPC personnel will validate, orient potential beneficiaries, and endorse for approval their loan application. Upon release of the loan, ACPC will continue to monitor if the amount loaned are being used appropriately as agreed until the loan is fully paid.

Furthermore, vegetable production financed under the PLEA is covered with crop insurance by the Philippine Crop Insurance Council (PCIC) that will help the farmers recover in cases of calamity. Destructions caused by pest and diseases are also covered in the insurance.

Eligible farmer borrowers can avail themselves of up to Php 50,000 depending on the vegetable production project to be financed with a maximum of 2,500 sq. m. of planting area. As to loan payment, it depends on the maturity date of the loan which is measured up to the production cycle of the vegetables planned to plant by the borrower.

In the event that the farmer-borrower is a consistent good payer he/she will be given the chance to avail a loan of higher amount.

BAPTC as a marketing arm

On the other hand, BAPTC is responsible for monitoring the trading and marketing of the produce of PLEA borrowers. This is to ensure that farmer-borrowers are trading the estimated volume of their vegetable produce they committed upon their loan application.

BAPTC in turn supports the monitoring system of the ACPC through the regular reports of farmer produce traded in the center.

The one hundred percent repayment of the rural credit from the four coops is just the start for PLEA. Buguias Farmer, Amado William of Lengawan Indigenous Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative (LIFMPC) said that the regular visits done by APCC to monitor the status of the crops was of great help.  He explained that this pushed them to really utilize the money for their production which made them earn enough money to pay their loan on-time.

The six percent interest of the loan that goes to the coop becomes a saving for the group which they can use for funding the loan requirements of their members. “Mayat ta nakaibati ti income ti coop ta mausar mi mitlang diyay kwarta,” William added. According to William, the no-collateral and low interest rate policy makes it easier for farmers to focus on production.

Once the loan of the first batch were paid for, the coop can renew their loan. As per endorsement of ACPC, the loan amount could possibly be doubled said Balingan. This is on the basis of the farmers coop’s credit history and performance.

This year, PLEA will be extending the program to the farmers of Mountain Province. The loan expansion gives more farmers in the Cordillera a chance to avail a more accessible credit program.

Farmers’ Cooperatives or Farmers’ Groups interested to avail of the PLEA may visit the ACPC Benguet Satellite office located at the 2nd Floor , Spot 2 Bldg., BAPTC, BSU Strawberry Fields, La Trinidad, Benguet and look for Kristle Ann S. Balingan or contact at  09092069794.

By Rebecca Dibdiben and Ayra Galanza