The Department of Agriculture through the Agriculture Credit Policy Council (ACPC) has approved an initial P1-billion loan assistance to marginal farmers and fisherfolk, as well as agri-fishery micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to enable them to cope during this state of national emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the financing program is part of the expanded SURE Aid and Recovery Project, in support of the “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Kontra COVID-19″ or Plant, Plant, Plant Program, which aims to increase farm productivity and ensure food sufficiency during the Covid-19 emergency situation.

The loan facility will provide small farmers, fishers and agri-fishery MSEs with needed working capital to continue operations amid the enhanced community quarantine. Under the expanded loan program, eligible SMEs (single proprietorship, partnership, corporation or cooperative/association) may borrow up to P10 million at zero interest, payable up to five years, the DA chief said.

On the other hand, individual farmers and fishers can borrow non-collateralized loan of P25,000 at zero interest and payable in 10 years. Only one borrower is allowed per farm/fisher household. He added that farmers, fishers and MSEs who will participate in the DA’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita program will be given priority.

“The idea is to provide emergency and production capital requirements for our marginalized sector, whose operations and earnings were severely affected by the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon,” the DA secretary said.

“The country’s farmers and fishers, who we consider as food security ‘frontliners,’ play a crucial part in our fight against Covid-19. That’s why it is important that we continue to empower them to ensure continued production and delivery of food to our countrymen,” Dar said.

“As I have mentioned many times before, the threat of hunger is as real as the threat of Covid-19. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of our farmers and fishers in ensuring stable food supply, especially in Metro Manila and other urban centers,” he added.

The DA-ACPC is strengthening its partnerships with 230 existing lending conduits nationwide, that include government banks, rural banks, cooperative banks, cooperatives, viable NGOs, and associations for the successful implementation of the expanded SURE Aid program.

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