MANILA, APRIL 15, 2008
(STAR) By Marianne V. Go - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is putting up a facility wherein farmers can borrow up to P5 billion through a federation of cooperative banks and a pro-farmer party-list group.

In a memorandum of commitment, the DA, represented by Secretary Arthur Yap; the Cooperative Banks Federation of the Philippines (Bangkoop) led by Hermino Ocampo; and the Luzon Farmers Party-list (BUTIL) group of Rep. Leonila Chavez, agreed to spur small agricultural financing in the countryside by tapping cooperative banks as a source of loans for small farmers and fisherfolk.

Under the agreement, the DA will make available a P700-million financing facility to the cooperative banking sector which will, in turn, commit to extend P5 billion in loans to small farmers.

BUTIL will “launch advocacy initiatives that would boost cooperativism and ensure the sustainability and availability of credit to small farmers and fishers, particularly through the Cooperative Bank Agri-Lending Program,” the accord said.

The pact was signed right after last week’s National Food Summit at the Fontana Convention Center at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga, where President Arroyo unveiled her P43.7-billion package of fresh intervention programs to sustain Philippine agriculture’s high growth path and attain the country’s food sufficiency targets in the face of a looming global food crunch.

Dubbed FIELDS by the President, the pro-agriculture initiative stands for the six areas of support to which Malacañang will infuse a total of P43.7 billion in government support — fertilizer, irrigation, education and training of farmers and fisherfolk, loans, dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and seeds of the high-yielding, hybrid varieties.

One component of FIELDS is the availability of P15 billion in credit facilities for small farmers.

This fund is on top, according to President Arroyo, of the P5 billion that the Land Bank of the Philippines has set aside for lending to palay farmers.

Yap said the signing of the pact with BUTIL and Bangkoop was in step with the President’s FIELDS program which highlights the importance of facilitating rural credit to small farmers and fisherfolk as a critical factor in sustaining agricultural growth and achieving food security.

“The cooperative banking sector has remained a steadfast player in rural financing, with a major portion of its loan portfolio lent to the agricultural sector, particularly to small farmers,” Yap said.

“Thus, we need to further harness this conduit of rural credit to make more funds available to our small farm and fisheries stakeholders,” Yap said.

Last week, farmers’ and agribusiness groups lauded, and gave their full backing to the President’s FIELDS program as well as to the intervention programs of the DA.

DA sells cheap pork, veggies at bagsakan centers By Marianne Go Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The public can now buy pork and vegetables at lower prices in the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) bagsakan centers and barangay food terminals.

The latest DA survey showed that pork at bagsakan centers is sold between P135 to P138 a kilo, compared to the P170 to P180 or higher for pork kasim or pork liempo in other markets.

Pork, based on the DA’s survey, is sold at P135 per kilo at the South Station bagsakan in Alabang, Muntinlupa City and from P135 to P137 at the Mutya ng Pasig market. But at the Muntinlupa market, pork is sold at P138 per kilo.

The public can also avail themselves of cheap vegetables such as tomatoes, onion, eggplants, and string beans at the bagsakan centers.

Tomatoes are reportedly sold at only P10 per kilo in one DA-partner bagsakan center in Marikina market. In other markets, tomatoes sell between P25 to P30 per kilo.

Onions, on the other hand, sells at only P28 per kilo at the South Station, slightly higher at P32 per kilo at the Marikina market. The price of onion reaches P34 per kilo at the Mutya ng Pasig market. Red onion in other markets range from P43 to P55 per kilo.

Eggplant reportedly costs only P13 per kilo at the Marikina market zone, while potatoes retails at P17 per kilo at the Mutya ng Pasig Market.

In other markets, eggplants retail from P18 to 25 per kilo, while potatoes sell from P20 to P40 per kilo elsewhere.

Ampalaya retails from P20 to P30 per kilo at the Mutya ng Pasig market, but its price ranges from P26 to P28 per kilo at the Muntinlupa market.

In other markets, ampalaya is sold from P30 to P50 per kilo.

Sitaw or string beans can be had for as low as P15 per kilo at South Station, slightly higher at P19 per kilo at the Marikina market zone, and up to P30 per kilo at the Mega Q Mart.

Carrots are sold between P10 to P13 per kilo at the Mutya ng Pasig bagsakan center. Elsewhere, carrots sell from P20 to P35 per kilo.

Garlic in regular markets retails from P23 to P35 per kilo and cabbage prices range from a low of P18 to P35 per kilo in regular markets.

Ginger is high right now, with prices ranging from P75 to P90 per kilo in markets. Sayote is sold at regular markets from P10 to P12 per kilo.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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