The Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) said it has provided P1.9 billion in funding support to 204 cooperatives and 12,086 farmers in 29 provinces under the Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF).

LandBank said the loans released to farmers and co-ops financed their production requirements and allowed them to continue planting the country’s staple.

In line with the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law, the RCEF was created, under which P10 billion is allocated annually for the next six years to provide fertilizer and irrigation support among other interventions- to boost local farmers’ productivity and income.

Of the P10 billion, 10 percent or P1billion has been allocated to ERCA which will be shared equally by LandBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines at P500 million each per year for lending to small palay farmers.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the financing assistance comes with minimal interest rate and minimum collateral requirements.

The state-owned bank joined the “Lakbay Palay” event organized by the DA and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, to promote the ERCA-RCEF.

During the event, LandBank’s RCEF beneficiary Nariza Tan of Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija shared her experiences as the RCEF reached its fourth year of implementation.

“The loan I availed from RCEF was helpful because I was able to meet the needs of my rice fields. From the previous 120 cavans per hectare, my yield increased by 30 cavans per hectare. The interest is still cheap at 2 percent per year,” Tan said.

PhilRice also launched the “Bantay Palay” Mobile App, which can monitor the prices of rice in real time. Certified inbred rice seeds were also distributed to farmers during the event.

Through PhilRice and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech), the RCEF has also provided 12 million sacks of seedlings to about 1 million farmers, and distributed 22,306 farm machineries to 7,136 farmers’ cooperatives and associations in 57 provinces nationwide.

Earlier, the province of Cagayan, a top rice producer in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) received P503.17 million worth of farm machines from the DA-PHilMech under the RCEF.

DA Region II Executive Director Narciso Edillo said the amount covers the period from 2019 to 2022.

For this year, another set of farm machines worth P77.1 million was released during a recent event held at the DA-Southern Cagayan Research Center in Minanga Norte, Iguig town.

He said 46 farmers’ cooperatives and associations received 61 farm machine units, including a rice combine harvester, precision rice seeder, hand tractor and recirculating dryer. (Raadee S. Sausa, Business Mirror)