Agriculture secretary, Emmanuel Piñol, announced the shift in assistance of the department to farmers from subsidy to credit during a workshop of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) on April 27, 2018 at the Venus Parkview Hotel, Baguio City.

DA Regional Executive Directors and DA-ATI Center Directors all over the country converged to harmonize extension support, education and training services (ESETS) as an initial step to DA’s new paradigm.

“We have to synchronize all our efforts, from DA’s banner programs to ATI’s trainings. Subsidies aren’t sustainable. It’s mostly affected by political decisions and goes through a slow process. But with easy access loan programs, it will fast track the delivery of services and farmers get to choose what materials they want to get,” said Sec. Piñol.

Last year, the DA launched the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) in coordination with Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC). Vegetable farmers in Benguet, one of the pioneer provinces granted with PLEA, was able to 100% repay their loans. Sec. Piñol proudly congratulates the Cordillera by doing a good job and hopes that this becomes an inspiration to others.

“If CAR was able to successfully do it then we can do it nationwide too. We will unite all our efforts to make this possible,” he enthused. 

In addition, ATI is now being pushed to take the role of capability building. New trainings will be focusing on the preparation of the stakeholders to be financially literate. Provincial loans support teams will also be established to assist the stakeholders and make accessing loans easier.

Agriculture has a 4% growth, the highest in 10 years. Sec. Piñol sees the problems that the agriculture sector are facing as a challenge and enjoined everyone to rise above it and prove to everyone by performing better. //Ayra Galanza