Monday, March 22, 2010

Rural banks offer loan relief for El Niño stricken farmers

Jimmy Calapati in Malaya Business Insight (Philippines): Due to the adverse effects of the prolonged dry spell on farmlands and fishponds, the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) yesterday said its members are stepping in to give embattled sectors a much-needed boost, including loan relief and additional financing.

"Our bank members are ready to provide assistance in the form of loan re-scheduling for farmers affected by El Nino," RBAP president Joseph Omar Andaya said. For small and medium enterprises, rural banks are ready to provide loans for the purchase of water pumps and generators in Mindanao which has been severely hit by drought and brownouts, Andaya said. Andaya said rural banks are offering micro insurance packages to farmers and SMes.

Andaya said that RBAP has been very supportive of the development of small and medium enterprises in rural areas, providing over P8 billion in loans to over 800,000 micro-entrepreneurs. For the whole agri-agra sector, rural banks have provided a total of P35.5 billion in loans over the years.

Andaya said now is the time to seriously formulate measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. "This is a global problem. As the prolonged heat wave continues to drain the country’s agri-agra production, we can’t afford to sit back and just accept the fate that’s handed to us. We have to act," said Andaya.

"Now, more than ever, farmers and fisher folks need us. This is a period of crisis. We have to keep the wheels of economic development in the countryside turning," he said. "In all likelihood, it would get worse before it gets better. It’s no longer a question of thriving, but an issue of survival. But, looking at the really big picture, the country’s main food supply is at stake here. We have to continue overcoming these natural obstacles and keep plugging the holes," he said….

Rice in Ifugao ready to be harvested, shot by BritandBeyonce , Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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