February 16, 2011
Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan together with the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM) council create a committee consisting of representatives from the Development Bank of the Philippines, the private sector, the Senate, Congress, and Department of Agriculture to evaluate the lending scheme of the Agriculture to evaluate the lending scheme of the Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF).
“We have asked the DA to stop processing new loan applications through ACEF until we are able to address the loopholes of the lending program. The ACEF was not able to directly benefit our farmers and fisherfolk. If ACEF continue to release funds, it won’t be long before it goes bankrupt.”
Documents presented by the Department of Agriculture show that ACEF currently has P900M worth of unpaid loans.
“Most of those who got loans from ACEF are those whose profiles could easily get loans from banks. ACEF loans are zero interest rated and do not require collateral. Unscrupulous individuals and groups can easily abuse the system until we are able to assess and amend loan requirements and procedures. ”
Pangilinan, who is the Senate Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, acknowledges the challenges of providing farmers access to credit. In the recently concluded agriculture and fisheries summit wherein all the major players in the supply chain of the sector were gathered in a 2-day visioning exercise of where the sector ought to be in 15 years, one of the major concerns that constantly come up is providing farmers access to credit.
“It is a challenge, but in cooperation with Secretary Alcala, we will fast track the means to provide our farmers their financial needs.”
Pangilinan filed a resolution, SB 2623, amending An Act Providing for an Agriculture and Agrarian Reform Credit and Financing System Through Banking Institutions to adjust the computations of the total loanable funds generated by banks to agriculture and agrarian reform beneficiaries to include other funds previously generated under Presidential Decree 717, dated May, 1975.
“Our farmers and fisherfolk are truly the lifeblood of our country. They provide food on our tables. The government, in cooperation with those in the private sector, must be able to craft a scheme to extend credit line to farmers to improve their productivity and livelihood. This is one of the aims of the visioning exercise we conducted in the multi-sectoral conference in Antipolo. The 15-year plan we will craft as a direct outcome of the conference will serve as a supplement to the administration’s six-year medium term development plan.”
Photos courtesy of Department of Agriculture