Straight from a three-day visit to Benham Rise, now renamed Philippine Rise, off Quezon province, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol headed to the province of Isabela on May 9, 2017 and awarded P1-billion worth of farm assistance.
Speaking before about 4,000 local farmers, fisherfolk and local officials at the Faustino Dy Coliseum in Cauayan City, Isabela, Piñol announced that farmers and fisherfolk from all over the country could now avail themselves of a new lending program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) under the Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) called the Production Loan Easy Credit (PLEA) program.
He declared the province of Isabela as pilot area of the PLEA project. “I will ask ACPC to allot P100M for the province of Isabela to implement the program,” Piñol said.
Under the PLEA, farmers and fisherfolk need not submit any collateral and will pay a minimum interest rate of 6 percent every year.
“Farmers can use to purchase hybrid seeds and fertilizer for their farmlands,” Piñol pointed out.
He stressed, however, that the farmers and fisherfolk seeking access to the PLEA loans “need to undergo trainings and be registered as farmers.”
“We will provide them ID which already include microchips” to ensure that they qualify and prevent abuse, he added.
The 1-Billion DA farm assistance for the province include P325-million from the rice program, P7.14-million for livestock promotion and development, P26-million for high value crop development, P78-million for corn and cassava development, P268-million in infrastructure projects under the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP), P229-million in farm to market road projects, P80 million for fisheries development and P50, 000 for carabao bull dispersal.
“You have to empower your people and we will assist you in any way,” he told the local officials from different municipalities of Isabela in front of the farmers and fisherfolk.
He noted that Isabela remains one of the biggest rice and corn producing province in the country, but advised farmers to produce more by learning and using more efficient planting and harvesting methods.
Piñol pointed to the current program of the DA called the National Color Coded Agriculture Map (NCCAG), which would guide farmers in what area and the right crop to plant in their communities, including the sources of water.
“For those areas who doesn’t have access to the Internet, we are planning to print an atlas and display it in every municipalities where farmers and fisherfolk can see the crops they can plant in their area,” Piñol said.
He also said that he is reviewing the possibility of regulating the entry of wheat in the country to protect corn farmers.
Meanwhile, Piñol, together with Isabela Governor Faustino “Bojie” Dy III, Ilagan City Mayor Evelyn C. Diaz, Region 2 Executive Director Lucrecio Alviar Jr., and Regional Farmer Director Isidro Acosta Sr., led the inauguration and groundbreaking of various facilities of the Department of Agriculture-Cagayan Valley Research Center (CVRC) at Ilagan City, Isabela.
Said facilities amounting to around P60 million include a P16-million storage facility for corn, P11.5-million multipurpose hall where modern farm equipment for corn production can be stored, 12 units of rehabilitated old staff houses worth P12.7 million, dorm houses that can cater up to 100 staff (50 girls and 50 boys), and lodging houses for visitors.