Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol led the launching of the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) – National Food Authority (NFA) scheme loan facility last January 28, 2019, in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.
A joint program of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) and the NFA, both of which are under the DA, the PLEA-NFA scheme is designed to finance production of rice of farmers who will sell their produce to the NFA. It offers non-collateralized loans at 3% interest, with a maximum loanable amount of P50,000, payable within six months after the harvest season. The farmer-borrowers will enter a marketing agreement with the NFA, allowing them to pay off their loans through the sale of their produce.
Eligible borrowers include small rice farmers, defined as those who own or are still amortizing not more than three (3) hectares of farm lands.
Secretary Piñol has cited the PLEA-NFA program as “the government’s intervention” to provide farmers with a more viable alternative to loan sharks and local traders who take advantage of farmers by charging exorbitant interest rates averaging 5 to 10% per month.
The program ensures rice farmers of a sure market for their produce through the NFA, and also assures efficient and accurate validation through aerial mapping, geo-tagging, and geo-referencing done by the Department of Agriculture – Information and Communication Technology Service (DA-ICTS).
The PLEA-NFA scheme loans also include free crop insurance from the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC),
The pioneer program was given a P200 million fund allocation for implementation in select provinces through ACPC-accredited lending conduits, which include rural banks, cooperative banks, cooperatives, and non-government organizations.
During the launching, DA Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, together with ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola, also turned over a P40 million credit fund to the Rural Bank of Lebak to jumpstart the program.
Also in attendance were DA RFO 12 Regional Executive Director Mila A. Casis, NFA OIC Admin. Tomas Escarez, NFA Assistant Admin. Roy Estoperez, NFA 12 Regional Director Dianne A. Silva, and other DA officers and staff. Witnessing the launch were farmers and farmer leaders from South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, and General Santos City.