Barbaza, Antique—The combined efforts of government institutions led by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) have helped uplift the lives of palay (unhusked rice) farmers and irrigators in this fourth-class municipality through its successful palay trading business.
Jose Mario Rico Magtulis, president of the Barbaza Farmers Irrigators Association, Inc. (BFIA), credits the collaboration among different government agencies as instrumental for the group to extend assistance to their 708 members, with 217 of them being agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs).
Through the DAR, BFIA was able to avail of a P1-million credit line under the Agrarian Production Credit Program (APCP) of LANDBANK in 2016, which they used as working capital for this new business.
Before this, they also received various pre- and post-harvest facilities from DAR and DA, through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
“Before, only the NIA was giving us support. When DAR entered the picture, we learned about the APCP loan, and we were then introduced to LANDBANK, which allowed us to finally help our members,” said Magtulis.
Diversifying their association’s business into palay trading helped their farmers sell their crops at competitive prices, Magtulis said.
“Thanks to APCP, we helped our farmers because they are assured their produce will be bought. The association buys their palay, and they don’t suffer losses,” he added.
Equipped with a mechanical dryer, BFIA turns the palay they purchased from their farmer-members into rice, which are sold in their retail stores or distributed to the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as one of the accredited suppliers of the program in the province.
BFIA currently covers a total of 706 hectares in 12 barangays of the municipality. Aside from buying the produce of their farmer-members, BFIA was also able to generate employment through APCP, hiring 32 additional personnel for their palay trading and irrigation system.
Despite the drop in the farmgate price of palay, Magtulis said they remain committed to supporting their members through continued patronage of their crops.
This kind of dedication to their members through the years has won for BFIA the DA’s Best Irrigation Association in the National Level Category in 2018.
Moving forward, BFIA is looking at expanding its business by venturing into fertilizers and farm inputs trading to further increase the income of their farmer-members, still with the help of LANDBANK and other government agencies.
“Through LANDBANK, we have the assurance that we can continue doing business, so we will keep working hard and do everything to provide good service to our farmer-members,” Magtulis said.
The APCP is a joint program of DAR and LANDBANK, which aims to achieve sustainable crop production and increase the income of ARBs and their households through the provision of credit and capacity building assistance.
Aside from APCP, LANDBANK also partnered with DAR to introduce the Accessible Funds for Delivery to Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (AFFORD-ARBs) Program last year, which provided loans to finance the production of rice, corn, high-value crops, as well as farm implements.
Outstanding loans for this Program in 2019 reached P100.86 million, which was availed by 523 farmer-borrowers and a cooperative.
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