Landbank to triple low-interest loans to farmers, fisherfolk
In line with President Duterte’s directive to increase lending to the agriculture sector, the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines will next year triple to P30 billion its low-interest loans to farmers and fisherfolks.
Landbank president and chief executive Cecilia C. Borromeo said Wednesday night that direct lending to small farmers and fisherfolk would jump from P9.3 billion at present and the loans would be charged a reduced interest of 5 percent a year from 6 percent previously through cross-subsidy.
“We looked at the cost of our core deposit and capital and we think that 5 percent is something we can manage. We will subsidize that from our other commercial loans,” Borromeo explained.
For the entire agriculture sector, Landbank targets to lend a total of P265 billion in 2020.
“We’re projecting to increase our loan portfolio to the agriculture sector by at least 15 percent annually. In 2019, we’re looking to book a total of P231.25 billion and target one million farmers. By 2020, the loans to agriculture sector will reach P265 billion and we’re looking to assist two million farmers. It’s a consistent growth—so by 2022, the portfolio of the bank to the agriculture sector will reach P350 billion and we should be able to assist at least three million farmers by then,” Borromeo said.
Landbank also wanted to more than double the number of its farmer-beneficiaries to two million next year from 889,669 at present “by doubling the number of existing lending officers for the agriculture sector and opening more lending centers in rural areas,” according to Borromeo.
“We have 44 lending centers now; we are looking to increase that number to 50 in 2020,” she said, adding that Landbank’s board already approved to open new centers in Lanao de Norte and Quirino provinces while considering another one in Antique.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, who chairs Landbank, said lending centers were usually being put up in “underserved” areas.
Also, Borromeo said Landbank would expand its rural branch network by 40 percent over the next three years.
The lender will likewise strengthen its capacity-building services for farmers by more than tripling the program’s allocation to P100 million in 2020 from P30 million at present, while also ramping up loan releases to Department of Agriculture (DA)-assisted programs aimed at increasing farmers’ and fishers’ productivity. —BEN O. DE VERA
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