Small farmers and fishers from the province of Maguindanao received financial assistance under the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Credit Policy Council’s (DA-ACPC) SURE COVID-19 loan program.

A total of P2.5 million was released to an initial 100 beneficiaries who were able to borrow uncollateralized, zero-interest loans worth P25,000 payable up to 10 years. Three hundred more small farmers and fishers are expected to receive financial support in the coming days.

“This program will help our farmers and fishers from the province of Maguindanao regain their capacity to continue their agri-fishery activities and contribute to sustained food production,” said DA Secretary William Dar. “They are also considered front liners in our battle against the COVID 19.”

The Organization for Industrial, Spiritual, and Cultural Advancement Farmers Association for Ranao Muslim (OISCA FARM) Multipurpose Cooperative, which serves as DA-ACPC’s partner lending conduit in the province, disbursed the loans to the first batch of recipients coming from the Municipalities of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Sultan Kudarat, Parang, Sultan Sa Barongis, Mamasapano, Sultan Mastura, Guindulungan, Talayan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Aguak, Kabuntalan, and Datu Piang.

Along with OISCA FARM, the Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) led by Minister Mohammad Yacob, was vastly instrumental in fast tracking the implementation of the innovative financing program in the area.

“We [MAFAR] and the government are very much concerned of our farmers and fisherfolk. The ministry is here to help them improve their livelihood and alleviate them from poverty,” Yacob said.

“The ministry is committed to provide any form of assistance for the benefit of our marginalized farmers who struggle to survive daily,” he added.

“Ang plano po namin ay gawing kapital ang perang natanggap at bibili rin ng kambing para pagkakitaan,” said Mohalidin Ensu, a 44-year old farmer-beneficiary from Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

SURE COVID-19 is part of the DA’s initiative to increase the country’s food adequacy level during the emergency situation resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Aside from small farmers and fisherfolk, it also provides working capital to agri-fishery-based micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to ensure the availability of food supply and help them recover their losses incurred from the effects of the pandemic.