$100-M loan offered for farm sector modernization
An Israeli private firm is offering a $100-million loan to the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local governments units to modernize the country’s agriculture sector.
The offer came just when the industry is grappling with low palay prices, the spread of fall army worm in crops, and the impending threat of African swine fever in hogs.
In a statement, the DA said Israel-based Mima Tech would bring in funds to the Philippines to put up collaborative projects with the government that would focus on rice production and marketing.
These would include the “establishment of state-of-the-art rice mills, soil rejuvenation technologies, irrigation systems, fertilization and spraying techniques and seed cultivation.”
The agency said the firm was willing to raise 80 to 100 percent of the fund through loans that would be payable in eight to 10 years at a maximum interest rate of 4 percent.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar supported the venture, saying it would “accelerate the department’s target in operationalizing the provincial agriculture extension systems.”
He also proposed that projects should start with the top 10 rice-producing provinces in the country in view of the steady fall in the prices of palay, reaching as low as P7 a kilogram.
These provinces are Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Iloilo, Camarines Sur, Tarlac, North Cotabato, Leyte and Negros Occidental.
The secretary also said that these projects must be built upon an agribusiness approach to ensure the profitability of small-scale farmers.
State-run Land bank of the Philippines would be working closely with Mima Tech in terms of managing the fund.
Mima Tech’s interest in investing in the Philippines was sparked by President Duterte’s visit in Israel in October last year, wherein the DA was also able to secure a P44-billion solar irrigation project with another Israeli private firm.
During that visit, Mr. Duterte signed several agreements especially on labor, tourism, trade, agriculture and security and law enforcement.
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