DA readies aid for calamity-hit farmers, fishers in Pangasinan

By Catherine Teves

July 27, 2018, 9:44 pm

MANILA -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to give financial assistance to small farmers and fisherfolk in Pangasinan province, which is under a state of calamity due to the successive onslaught of tropical cyclones this month.

DA's Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) is already searching for Pangasinan lending conduits to tap for downloading loans that the small farmers and fishers can avail of.

The aid would be given through the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) facility, said ACPC project management officer Joanna Fernandez on Friday.

ACPC will also orient lending conduits in Pangasinan on the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Assistance Program for the farmers and fisherfolk, whose livelihoods were affected by the typhoons.

"ACPC already deployed to Pangasinan a team tasked with attending to such matters," Fernandez said.

PLEA is a special DA credit program for financing small farmers and fishers' production activities, offering them non-collateralized loans through conduits like cooperative banks, cooperatives, farmers and fisherfolk organizations, and non-government organizations.

Under the PLEA, an eligible farmer or fisher can avail of up to PHP50,000 PLEA loan at 6-percent interest per annum, according to the ACPC.

Under the SURE, calamity-affected small farmers and fishers can avail of survival assistance grants of up to PHP10,000 per borrower for immediate and emergency needs.

SURE also provides calamity-affected small farmers and fishers with zero-interest recovery assistance loans of up to PHP25,000 per borrower for rehabilitating their farming or fishing operations.

Fernandez said the ACPC is awaiting the local government of Pangasinan's list of calamity-affected small farmers and fishers.

The list would enable the agency to estimate how much SURE funding to allocate for them, she said.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on his facebook account on Friday the DA has started agri-fisheries relief and rehabilitation in Pangasinan by turning over PHP81 million worth of seeds.

"Fingerlings of bangus, Pangasinan's most famous product, will also be given to fish cage and fishpond farmers," he said.

Piñol related visiting Pangasinan this week to supervise the DA's relief and rehabilitation efforts in the province.

The total value of production loss in Pangasinan and other areas, due to the onslaught of typhoons "Henry", "Inday", and "Josie" already reached PHP1.55 billion as of 6 p.m. on July 26, the agriculture czar said.

Pangasinan's production loss was almost PHP450 million, he added. (PNA)