Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol and Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola launched the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program in the town of Malimono, Surigao del Norte on June 23, 2017. The DA Secretary and ACPC Executive Director turned-over a check amounting to P15 million to the Malimono Multipurpose Cooperative which will serve as the lending conduit for the municipality. Passbooks and intervention cards were handed to farmer/fisherfolk beneficiaries of the program.

PLEA is a special credit facility designed to address the financial needs of marginal and small farmers and fisherfolk for a fast, convenient and affordable credit. Non-collateralized loans for agri-fishery production will be provided under the PLEA through cooperative banks, cooperatives and non-government organizations (NGOs) as credit delivery channels (lending conduits). The program was launched in the town of Malimono which is considered as one of the country’s poorest fishing and agriculture areas with a poverty incidence rate per family of 90%. P15 million was downloaded to the Malimono MPC by the ACPC for the program. The maximum loanable amount a farmer or fisherfolk can borrow under the PLEA Program is P50,000, depending on the type of agri-fishery commodity. The loan is payable from two to 10 years with an interest rate of 6% per annum or 0.5% per month (i.e., P3,000/year or P250/month for a P50,000 loan). Commodities financed under the PLEA are also covered with crop insurance by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).

Farmers and fisherfolk borrowers of the program are also be enrolled in the Juan Magsasaka at Mangingisda National Database System and will also be geo-tagged by the DA- Information Communications Technology Service (ICTS) to establish the location of their farms and fishing grounds. Aside from Malimono in Surigao del Norte, PLEA is also being piloted in other areas with high poverty incidence: 1) Bongabon, Nueva Ecija; 2) Wao, Lanao del Sur; 3) Banisilan, Cotabato; 4) Pitogo, Bohol; 5) Laguna de Bay; 6) Midsayap, Cotabato; 7) M’lang, Cotabato, 8) Isabela; and 9) Kalinga, 10) Koronadal, South Cotabato and other areas that have been identified for development intervention by the DA.

ACPC Executive Director Jocelyn Alma R. Badiola heads the Task Group for the implementation of the PLEA with Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) President Jovy Bernabe and DA – Information, Communications Technology Service Director Clint Hassan as members. Exec. Dir. Badiola went to Malimono for initial talks with the local government officials regarding PLEA on April 4-7, 2017, a few days after Sec. Piñol’s Biyaheng Bukid in Surigao del Norte, where Sec. Piñol introduced the PLEA to Malimono. Having grown up in a farm himself, Sec. Piñol conceptualized the program, which he knows is what the farmers and fisherfolk need for them to have access to better production inputs and equipment. PLEA is one of the programs of the DA that will help ensure sustained growth in the farming and fisheries sector, which, in the First Quarter of 2017 showed a spectacular growth of 5.28%. The program is considered by the DA as a crucial component for revitalizing the rural economy and addressing poverty in the countryside.