Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones urged farmers here on Tuesday to avail of a government credit facility for small farmers through the state-owned Landbank of the Philippines.
Castriciones described the credit facility, which President Rodrigo Duterte launched in a recent visit to Nueva Vizcaya this July, as “accessible, sustainable, and very simple to avail of”.
The small loan program allows an individual farmer to avail of a maximum of PHP50,000 loan, payable in a year at an annual interest rate of six percent or only about PHP3,000.
The credit facility, Castriciones said, could lift the farmers’ financial condition.
Meanwhile, Castriciones told the Benguet farmers that his department has formed a task force to identify idle government lots that could be subjected to agrarian reform for distribution.
He said the act is in line with the President’s directive to give to farmers government-owned lots that have been idle for 30 years or over for agricultural production.
He said the government is eyeing about 400,000 hectares more under this program for distribution to farmers.
This, he pointed out, is aside from the 500,000 hectares covered in the past under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.
The Secretary also relayed that President Duterte might issue an Executive Order converting idle government lots into agricultural to serve as legal basis for the distribution.
Castriciones said the President had ordered his department to draft a bill that would further extend the life of the agrarian reform program, and include a more extensive protection and promotion of the welfare of the agricultural sector in the country.
He said about 70 percent of Filipinos are into farming and agriculture still needs to be fully supported.
“The President wants to address the problems of the agriculture industry and there is a need to strengthen the farmers,” he told agrarian reform beneficiaries and organizations in Benguet. (PNA)
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