Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Farmers’ Cooperatives from Negros Occidental

The government has started rolling out a P1-billion loan facility for agrarian reform beneficiaries, with a farmers' cooperatives from Negros Occidental getting the privilege of being the first group to get approval for P30-million credit line for sugarcane production projects.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Monday reported that the Negros Island Savings and Credit Cooperative (NISCO) became the first beneficiary of the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP), a joint undertaking of DAR, DA and the Land Bank of the Philippine.

The program provides for a P1 billion-fund to support credit requirements of agrarian reform beneficiaries nationwide. Of the total amount, P300 million shall be allocated to the province of Negros Occidental.

According to the DAR, an initial amount of P1.77 million was already released last January 11 to finance 29.55 hectares of sugarcane farms being cultivated and managed by 26 member-beneficiaries of NISCO.

The farmers' cooperatives is headed by its chairman, Joel Palma, and composed of agrarian reform beneficiaries who are members of the Task Force Mapalad.

The DAR explained that the P1-billion credit facility aims to ensure sustainable production of crops and increase income of the program recipients by providing them with other support services such as marketing, crop insurance and farm facilities.

Likewise, it seeks to strengthen the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organizations (ARBOs) and improve the capabilities of ARBs through the provisions of institutional capability building assistance through the DAR and technical assistance for agricultural production management through the DA.

Aside from Chairman Palma, signatories in the loan agreement were NISCO's vice-chairman Ronel Cañal, and Land Bank Lending Center head, Jeffrey Maningo. Also present at the signing ceremony were Marjorie Pontino, the coop secretary; Katherine Toleco, the coop bookkeeper; and Syvel Nobleza, the coop loan officer.

Maningo expressed optimism that the NISCO would make use of the initial fund release to ensure that the land awarded to the farmers under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) would remain productive.

Last January 15, 2013, the DAR and the DA announced that the national government has allocated P1 billion for agricultural insurance coverage of at least 224,036 agrarian reform beneficiaries nationwide.

According to the DAR, the P1-billion Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries-Agricultural Insurance Program (ARB-AIP) will be implemented in partnership with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) to ensure the productivity of lands awarded to farmers under CARP.

The program aims to protect agrarian reform beneficiaries against losses due to pest and disease infestations, natural calamities and extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change.

This is consistent with the integrated support services interventions provided by the national government to agrarian reform beneficiaries.

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