With the theme “Rural and Agricultural Finance Best Practices: Experiences of the Philippines”, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) hosted a national dissemination workshop on pilot testing rural finance best practices. The forum was conducted  in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association – Center for Training and Research for Agricultural Banking (APRACA-CENTRAB) and other APRACA-member institutions in the Philippines in Pasig City on 14 June 2018.

The conference aimed at validating the country reports on the piloting of rural finance best practices in the Philippines which were documented under the International Fund for Agriculural Development (IFAD) regional grant project “Documenting Global Best Practices on Sustainable Models of Pro-Poor Rural Financial Services in Developing Countries (RuFBeP Project)”.

Around 50 participants from APRACA member institutions in Philippines, namely:  Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), Alay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool (AGFP), Kabalikat para sa Maunlad na Buhay, Inc., Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) and 1st Valley Bank, Department of Agriculture(DA), ACPC and other government/non-government agencies attended the activity.

ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola, in her welcome remarks, said that timely, adequate and affordable credit is recognized as a key intervention in achieving the goal of increasing productivity and making food available and affordable. She said that credit helps equalize economic development opportunities in the agriculture and fisheries sector, thus, increasing incomes of small farmers and fisherfolk and reduce poverty. She added that providing access to financial resources in the rural areas is one of the important elements for rural development.

Mr. Nigel Brett, Asia and the Pacific Regional Director of the IFAD expressed his confidence that the forum will provide an excellent opportunity to validate the results of pilot testing in the Philippines and relate the good practices under this unique operating environment and their relationship with the other good practices at country level.

Dr. Prasun Kumar Das, Secretary General of the APRACA and Project Manager of the RUFBep Project, for his part, said that the project aims to sustainably reduce rural poverty and improve food security in rural communities in the Asia-Pacific region.  Its purpose is to assist rural finance providers and governments extend financial services on a sustainable basis, through the application of best practices suitable to their unique operating environments.

The workshop was divided into two technical sessions. Technical Session 1 –  Rural Finance Best Practices and its Impact on Sustainable Development involved presentations on: (1) Expert’s view on Pro-Poor and Sustainable Rural Finance and Its Impact to Financial Inclusion by Mr. Jerry Pacturan, Country Programme Officer, IFAD Philippines; (2) Innovations in Rural and Agricultural Finance in the Philippines by Ms. Charlotte Conde, First Vice President Mindanao Lending Group, LBP; (3) Easy Access Financing for Small Farmers and Fisherfolk by Mr. Noel Clarence Ducusin, Chief Program Development and Production Loan Easy Access Team Leader, ACPC; and (4) Experience Sharing on Kalasag Model of Cooperative Financing by Ms Jane Manucdoc, Microfinance Director, ASKI Philippines.

Technical Session 2 – Validation and Scalability of Financial Products and Services Pilot Tested in the Philippines which covered two presentations: (1) Results of Pilot Testing of the Agricultural Value Chain Finance in Benguet and Bukidnon, Philippines by Ms. Maria Cristina Lopez, ACPC Director; and (2) Important Areas of Observations on the Reports and Potential Areas of Improvements by Dr. Prasun Kumas Das, APRACA Secretary General and RuFBep Project Manager.

From the sharing of experiences, not only on the pilot testing but also on the participating agencies’ experience in rural and agricultural finance,  the following were realized:

  • Various financing support /assistance are available from private/non-governmental financial institutions (FIs), the government, international development agencies such as IFAD, etc. to the rural poor particularly small farmers and fishers that have incorporated “best- practice” elements and processes.

  • APRACA’s important areas of observations on the reports and potential areas of improvements, specifically on the documentation, include the following: quantification of costs and time for capacity building (e.g. number of trainings, how much spent); financing skewed towards production, financing throughout the value chain; identification of weak and strong links in the market; addressing issues such as risk management through insurance, understanding the market (farmers need to understand the market) to address asymmetry of information; collateral management; collaboration/coordination done

  • Documented practices are good practices that can be adopted and scaled up. It is recommended that lessons learned from the pilot testing be disseminated.  Thus, allowing the countries to adopt/adapt these practices, or scale up.

Undersecretary for High Value Crops and Rural Credit of the DA Ms. Evelyn Laviña, in her closing remarks, encouraged the dissemination and adoption of the documented best practices which are suitable to specific environments. She thanked the IFAD, APRACA, ACPC and CENTRAB for conducting the forum. She said that small farmers and fisherfolk will significantly benefit from the results of the forum discussions.