P600-M ready for sugar farmers

Sugar farmers can avail of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) with some P600 million allocated under the Sugar Industry Development Act (SIDA) of 2015.

Atty. Emilio “Dino” Yulo III of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said the socialized credit program has risen from P300 million to P600 million.

Senator Cynthia Villar, who co-authored its passage in the Senate, said the SIDA Act of 2015 was implemented two years ago, but the socialized credit program of Land Bank has yet to be availed of by sugar farmers.

Yulo said they will announce in the next few days the mechanics of the socialized credit program, also tapping local government units in the information dissemination campaign.

Villar during her recent visit to Negros said that sugar farmers seem to be hesitant to secure loans from banks due to lack of financial literacy, and prefer the 5-6 lending scheme that is easier.

The SRA will work with Land Bank on how to ease the process for securing loans by sugar farmers, Yulo said.

Entitled to avail of socialized credit program are sugar farmers with less than five hectares and below of land.

Under the farm plan, Yulo said individual sugar farmers may avail of P40,000 loan per hectare.

Data of the SRA shows that of the 423,000 hectares planted with sugarcanes in the country, 80 percent of the farms are five hectares and below.

Yulo pointed out that there is a need to streamline the process of securing loans because the main aim is to help sugar farmers with the financial needs.

The implementation of SIDA requires a P2 billion annual fund for the sugar industry, 50 percent of which should be spent for infrastructure, 15 percent for block farms, 15 percent for socialized credit, 15 percent for research and development, and 5 percent for scholarships for children of sugar farmers.*(NDB)