A new rural financing law will revitalize the agriculture and fisheries sector.
Republic Act No. 11901 or the Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Financing Enhancement Act of 2022 lapsed into law in July 2022 to repeal RA 10000 or The Agri-Agra Reform Credit Act of 2009.
The Department of Agriculture said the new law would boost productivity and competitiveness of the agriculture and fisheries sector by enhancing the accessibility of affordable financial services and programs, expanding its coverage and giving more flexibility to financing institutions.
“Agriculture, fisheries and rural development financing shall consist of loans and investments to finance activities that shall enhance productivity and increase income of an agricultural and fisheries household, thereby promoting agricultural sector productivity and competitiveness, as well as sustainable development of rural communities,” the DA said.
The law requires banking institutions to design and offer financial products and services that suit their agricultural clients’ specific requirements.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas agreed to efficiently implement RA 11901, considering the needs of the rural community beneficiaries and how the law would help in the recovery of the sector.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in his first State of the Nation Address, said the DA would extend financial and technical assistance to farmers in the next planting season to ensure increased harvests.
The DA though the Agriculture Credit Policy Council offers credit programs with flexible loan terms, recognizing the importance of providing affordable and accessible financial services to small farmers, fisherfolk and micro- and small-scale enterprises.
The agency serves 439 unbanked municipalities, representing 90 percent of all unbanked towns in the country.
The ACPC said that from 2019 to 2022, it disbursed P24.09 billion worth of loans to 408,834 small farmer- and fisherfolk-borrowers in partnership with financial institutions as conduits.
“Financial assistance is available. It is just a matter of applying whether as an individual farmer or a cooperative. As of now, we are really pushing for clustering and cooperativism. That is where we set our direction,” said Agriculture undersecretary-designate for consumer and political affairs and spokesperson Kristine Evangelista.
Evangelista said the DA’s program would focus on increasing production, while bringing down prices of fertilizer and other farm inputs.
The new administration will also focus on food mobilization to ensure that consumers have access to quality food items at affordable prices, she said.
Evangelista said the DA’s National Rice Program continues to provide aid to farmers as prices of farm inputs remain high.
The NRP is fast-tracking the arrival of cheaper fertilizers in time for the next planting season in October, she said.
The DA is looking into possible government-to-government agreements and started initial discussions with China, Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates for the procurement of cheaper fertilizers.
“We are currently conducting a national inventory of our facilities that we will maximize not only for fertilizer storage but for food mobilization as well,” she said.