DA offers P25k loan to Mayon-affected farmers

By Connie Calipay

LEGAZPI CITY -- Some 277 farmers from 15 barangays in Oas town, Albay province can now avail of loan with no collateral, no interest and payable in two years or four cropping seasons.

Small farmers and fisher folk in areas under a state of calamity could avail of loans under the Survival Recovery (SURE) Access Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional office in Bicol, DA-Bicol information officer, Emily Bordado said in a phone interview on Friday.

Recalling their helplessness early this year when Mayon Volcano erupted and covered their ricefields with ash and volcanic pebbles, 62-year-old Armando Rebagoda, a farmer with three children, expressed his gratitude for the loan program, which, he said, could help his family recover from the calamity.

Rebagoda is from Barangay San Isidro, which is 11 kilometers away from the permanent danger zone. Residents in the village, most of them farmers, were severely affected by the volcano's eruption last January.

Oas municipal agricultural officer Leonardo Ondiz said other beneficiaries will be using their loan proceeds to engage in swine, coconut, cacao, pili, fruit, corn, peanut, rice and vegetable production.

"Asked if they can afford to pay PHP6,250.00 cash every cropping season, said they said, 'ay siyempre man sir (of course, sir)' because they will be given ample time to save compared to private banks and loan sharks," Ondiz added.

The DA-SURE access loan can be availed of through its conduit bank-- the Banco Santiago De Libon (BSDL) -- which allocated PHP6.6 million for the program.

BSDL project management head Ma. Liza Dycoco also informed the farmers that this year, the bank offers a small farm financing loan to help them purchase equipment.

“This is like a mission of the bank to help our farmers,” she said.

There is also the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) for marginal and small farmers and fisher folk who want to avail of fast, convenient and affordable credit.

For Albay, the conduit banks include BSDL, Camalig Bank, Rural Bank of Pilar and Rural Bank of Guinobatan.

For Camarines Sur, the conduit entities include Magarao Multi-Purpose Cooperative (MPC), Sampaloc MPC, Camarines Sur MPC, Maymatan Farmers MPC, and San Antonio Farmers Irrigators MPC. (PNA)