The Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Credit Policy Council (DA-ACPC) has tapped 8 partner lending conduits covering 12 municipalities in Benguet to implement its SURE for Cut Flower Farmers, granting zero-interest loans amounting to a total of Php 32.5 million to 1,300 small cut flower farmers in the province as of May 6, 2020.
The DA-ACPC launched the Survival and Recovery Assistance Program or SURE for Cut Flowers, an emergency response loan program, in April this year to address the loss of income of small cut flower farmers due to the marketing restrictions during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Under the SURE for Cut Flowers, each eligible beneficiary may avail of a zero-interest, no-collateral loan up to Php 25,000, payable in 10 years, to cover their overhead cost during the ECQ or to engage in other income-generating activities to compensate for their losses. Eligible beneficiaries were identified by the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO), validated by the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office of Cordillera (DA-RFO CAR) and endorsed to DA-ACPC’s partner lending conduits.
Amid the challenges of identifying and validating beneficiaries while the province is under quarantine, the DA-ACPC through the cooperation of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office of Cordillera (DA-RFO CAR), Municipal Local Government Units (MLGUs), has disbursed loans to 1,300 farmers out of the more than 4,400 identified beneficiaries.
DA-ACPC Program Management Officer Ms. Krystle Balingan said that despite the restrictions they experienced, particularly in the validation of eligible beneficiaries during the enhanced, and later, extreme enhanced community quarantine, the support of the DA-RFO, MLGUs, and partner LCs made the efficient and safe distribution of loans possible.
The DA-ACPC has also tapped cooperatives as partner lending conduits to disburse loans to its member-borrowers, namely the Tawangan Agrarian Reform Community MPC in Kabayan and Mt. Blooms MPC in Atok; the Doers MPC in Tublay; and Bokod Sulphur Spring MPC, covering the municipalities of Bokod, Kabayan, Itogon, and Kapangan.
To ensure the borrowers’ safety in the processing of loans, the DA-ACPC, DA-RFO, MLGU and LCs have imposed measures to minimize physical contact.
In the case of Producers Savings Bank Corporation in La Trinidad, wherein new COVID-19 cases were reported in the last week of April, the processing and submission of requirements were done through the barangay with close coordination with the farmers. Borrowers were informed of their approved loans through the authorized barangay official and provided with a special pass and transportation to claim their loans at the bank. The Producers Savings Bank Corporation (PSBC) – La Trinidad branch disbursed a total of Php 16.27 million in loans to 651 farmers in La Trinidad, while its Baguio branch has scheduled releases for an additional 122 farmers in Tuba.