To help boost rice production in the country, the government is extending funding support for the farmers in irrigated areas.
Dubbed as Sikat Saka, a lending support exclusively for irrigated areas through Land Bank of Philippines (LBP), a total of P1.6 billion has been allocated for the program nationwide that started since 2012.
Initially, the program covered only 25 provinces but eventually expanded to 45 provinces in the country. In Caraga Region, Agusan del Sur is the sole province covered by the program since Agusan del Sur has the biggest area of rice production among five provinces in the region with almost 50,000 hectares.Maria Theresa Espinido, Agricultural Program Coordinating Officer of Agusan del Sur said that Department of Agriculture conceptualized the Sikat Saka in support to the Food Staples Sufficiency Program.
“This program aims to help palay farmers to access timely, adequate and affordable production credit,” she explained.
Under Sikat Saka, a small farmer in an irrigated area duly endorsed by an accredited irrigators’ association through National Irrigation Administration (NIA) can access credit assistance of P41,000 per hectare for inbred and P50,000 per hectare for the hybrid.
Small farmers refer to farmer tilling at least one half (1/2) hectare of irrigated land but not to exceed five (5) hectares.
“Currently, a total of 60 farmers had already availed the lending program amounting to P5 million and we are encouraging other farmers to avail the fund,” Connie Galeon of Land Bank of the Philippines South Caraga Lending Center said.
Funding support can be utilized solely for palay production based on farm plan and budget certified by the respective local government unit.
Sikat Saka has a diminishing interest rate starting from 15% down to 9% per annum upon reaching the eighth crop cycle. (Aurelius P. Arais/DA Caraga)