THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will offer interest-free loans to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to venture into agriculture-related businesses as part of efforts to boost the economic productivity of rural areas.
In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that returning OFWs can serve as “agripreneurs” to revive the countryside.
“As we adopt the ‘whole-of-nation approach’ in creating more livelihood and employment opportunities in the countryside, we will also ensure that more small farmers and fishers… will benefit from agri-ventures spawned by our returning OFWs,” Mr. Dar said.
The lending program is a component of the government’s “Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-Asa” (BP2) program, intended to decongest the capital, where most of the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases are concentrated.
Mr. Dar said the OFW loan programs will be coursed through the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), including the Expanded SURE-Aid and Recovery Project (SURE COVID-19), the Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) and the Agri-Negosyo (ANYO) program.
SURE COVID-19 extends to micro and small enterprises (MSEs) up to P10 million worth of working capital at zero interest, payable in five years. Individual farmers and fisherfolk affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) may borrow up to P25,000 at zero interest, payable in 10 years.
KAYA is intended for those aged 18 to 30 years, in order to encourage young entrepreneurs or agri-fishery graduates to set up agriculture-related businesses. The maximum loan is P500,000 at zero interest, payable over five years.
ANYO finances agri-ventures, working capital or fixed asset acquisition by individuals, sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, and cooperatives whose members are marginal small farmers and fisherfolk. Loans range between P300,000 and P15 million at zero interest, payable over five years.
On the other hand, OFWs can also access free technical training from the DA’s Agricultural Training Institute (ATI).
“Now is the time to tap the OFW sector as they start to reintegrate themselves back to their respective homes, communities and provinces,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave