TACLOBAN CITY – State-run Landbank of the Philippines has extended a P16.63 million loan to rice farmers in Leyte from January to June 2023 through its two major lending programs.

Landbank Leyte Lending Center head Resty Ilagan said some 96 farmers received the loan during the first six months of the year under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).

“These loan programs are designed to boost the productivity and income of small rice farmers suffering from the low buying price of palay and high production cost,” Ilagan said in a press briefing Thursday.

Total releases this year, however, is lower than the P23.25 million recorded in the same period in 2022 with 119 borrowers.

The bank is stepping up an information drive to raise awareness of local rice farmers on the loan program of the government bank.

“Leyte is one of the priority provinces due to the high incidence of poverty among families engaged in farming. We hope that more will avail the loan in the remaining months of the year,” Ilagan added.

Landbank Leyte Lending Center account officer Lyn Peñaranda said that under RCEF, individual farmers may borrow up to 90 percent of their total project cost at a low fixed interest rate of 2 percent per year.

“The loan may be used to purchase farm inputs for rice and rice seed production, as well as farm machinery and equipment for production and post-production,” Peñaranda added.

As mandated by law, Landbank will continue to administer the RCEF program until 2024 and make available P500 million in loans annually to rice farmers registered under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) in 38 rice-producing provinces.

The ACEF Lending Program, on the other hand, aims to provide necessary credit to farmers and fisherfolk and their cooperatives and associations to increase their productivity; and to establish an agricultural lending program that enhances the competitiveness of target project beneficiaries or sectors, especially the small farmers and fisherfolk.

The loanable amount under ACEF is up to 90 percent of the total project cost but not to exceed P1 million per individual farmer or fisherfolk, and P5 million per project loan per farmer and fisherfolk cooperative and association. (PNA)