Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. PiAol launched the nationwide Program for Unified Lending to Agriculture (PUNLA) in Northern Samar (Catarman) on September 15 and Eastern Samar (Borongan) on September 16.
PUNLA aims to address the financial needs of the marginal farmers and fishers of the country.
Together with Executive Director Jocelyn Alma Badiola of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), PiAol set in motion the lending facility, which covers ten of the poorest Philippine provinces.
"This is part of the government's effort to provide trouble-free services to rural communities, as we want to make things easier for them," PiAol said.
"The problem with the current credit systems is that it has too many requirements, and so farmers are often intimidated to approach a bank officer especially when he is wearing his usual rubber slippers," he further explained.
PUNLA, which has an initial funding allocation of P200-million (M), will provide non-collateralized loans for agri-fishery production and agri-microfinance.
Badiola explained that a borrower may avail as much as P150,000 loan at an interest rate of 6% with one-year maturity.
"However this will be made available thru farmers' organizations, cooperatives or non-government organizations," Badiola said.
Badiola added that an institutional capability building training will be provided to conduits prior to the approval and release of loans "to enable them to implement the credit system effectively."
On top of this, an insurance coverage under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation will also be made available.
PUNLA, is designed to be implemented in Apayao, Negros Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato, Saranggani. Maguindanao, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, and Northern Samar.
The launching coincided with the Aragtubang; Gobyerno ug Mulopyo (Tapatan: Gobyerno at Mamamayan) forum held in Catarman and Borongan.
In his message at the Catarman forum, PiAol stressed that it is his second visit in the province after only 70 days in office.
"You are a priority of the government, and so this is not my last visit," he announced.
"I will come back to see if the interventions that we provided today have helped your lives and livelihood," he said.
During the visit, the DA distributed 50 units fiberglass boats with gears to local fishermen.
"These 20-footer motorized boats may be used for your fishing and Bantay Laot activities, and so I expect you to take care of it," PiAol stressed.
Aside from the fishing boats, rice, corn and vegetable seeds were also turned-over to farmer/fisher-beneficiaries alongside various farm machineries and equipment under the Banner Programs of DA.
Total amount of agricultural interventions delivered to the municipalities of Northern Samar reached more than P20M.
Source: Philippine Information Agency