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Negros farmers avail PLEA assistance

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Hundreds of farmers and fishermen in Negros Occidental benefited from some P53 million in loans from the Department of Agriculture’s “Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA)” program.

The program, implemented by the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council, covers 1,500 farmers through the Negros Cooperative Bank and Pag-Inupdanay Inc., and La Castellana One Personnel Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

Jane Aplaon, PLEA focal person in Negros Occidental, said there is a high 90-percent repayment rate among the beneficiaries in Negros Occidental.

“The high repayment rate would mean that the credit program impacts the farmers positively as they are capable of paying even ahead of their payment schedules,” Aplaon said.

Data from the DA showed the Negros Cooperative Bank and Pag-Inupdanay have fully disbursed P20-million worth of credit individually since 2017.

La Castellana One Personnel Multi-Purpose Cooperative, which started in November 2018, has disbursed P12 million out of the P30 million downloaded fund of the ACPC.

When the program was first implemented in Negros Occidental in 2017, Cauayan, Hinoba-an, Ilog, Candoni, Kabankalan City, and Sipalay City served as pilot areas.

Beneficiaries of the program include rice and sugarcane farmers, as well as those into fisheries, and pineapple and ginger production.

PLEA is designed to address the financial needs of marginal and small farmers and fisherfolk for fast, convenient, and non-collateralized loans for agri-fishery production, which are provided through cooperative banks, cooperatives and non-government organizations (NGOs) as credit delivery channels.

Each individual farmer can get a loan of P50,000, payable within two to 10 years with an interest rate of 6 percent per annum.

Aplaon said that with easy payment terms, farmers are saved from the burden of incurring other loans with higher interest rates.