By Manny Piñol
The Department of Agriculture through its agency, the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), has opened a new loaning window which offers funds so farmers’ cooperatives and associations could buy the equipment and machineries they need.
The Farm Equipment and Machineries Loaning Program which was approved by the ACPC Executive Board last week offers an initial P400-M fund which could be accessed by the farmers with a 6% interest every year payable in eight years.
I proposed the new loaning program to the ACPC board, which I chair with representatives of the Central Bank, the Department of Finance, the Department of Budget Management and farmers groups, as part of the effort to improve the implementation of the farm mechanization program of the country.
Under the current set up, it is the Dept. of Agriculture, through its regional offices, which buys farm equipment and machineries which are then distributed to farmers groups.
In the previous administration, farmers groups were required to put up a 10% counterpart before they could get tractors, planters and harvesters.
This prevented many farmers from acquiring machineries and equipment which they needed to lower the post harvest losses which according to the data amount to 16% of the harvest.
When I assumed office as Secretary, I found farm machineries and equipment amounting to billions of pesos which were not distributed.
President Rody Duterte ordered the distribution of the machineries and equipment and issued the directive that farmers should not be required to put up counterparts.
The reformed Farm Mechanization Program which now offers loans instead of grants is expected to achieve the following:
- End the torturous government bidding process where machineries and equipment are bought not based on the choice of the farmers but on lowest bid. This resulted in the acquisition of poor quality machineries and equipment and suspicion of corruption;
- Allow the farmers to choose their own brand and own as many equipment and machineries as they need to serve their members or their communities;
- Fasttrack the implementation of the Farm Mechanization Program to effectively make farming more efficient and prevent post harvest losses;
- Start a sustainable Farm Mechanization Program where recipients will have a sense of ownership thus take care of the equipment and machineries that they need.
The Farm Machineries and Equipment Loaning Program will mark the start of a new approach in extending support to Filipino farmers which will be done through a sustainable loaning program.
This time, farmers will no longer complain that they were neglected and deprived of farm machineries by government.
Those who would like to avail of this program are asked to send your letter of intent to the Secretary of Agriculture so this could be deliberated on by the ACPC board.
(Photos downloaded from public websites.)