STO.DOMINGO, Albay— Still in their rice fields when farmers Corazon B. Lopez, 54 and Toribio Balderama, 63 of Barangay Isidro of this municipality were notified that they can now avail of their loans through the conduit bank Banco Santiago De Libon (BSDL).

Lopez will be using her Php30,000.00 loan proceeds to improve her rice field, purchase fertilizers and pay for her laborers.

“Dakulaon na tabang sako an loan na ini ta hababa an interest (The loan is a big help for me because of its low interest),” said Lopez.

Her brother Balderama will be purchasing a land master equipment and thresher from his Php50,000.00 loan proceeds.

“Pag igwa na akong land master asin thresher, makakabarato na ako sa patrabaho sa uma ta magastos an pagarado sa sobrang dugi (With my landmaster and thresher, I will be able to save from labor expenses because plowing in muddy soils is expensive),” Balderama said.

The PLEA Program is a credit program designed to address the financial needs of the marginal and small farmers and fisherfolk for a fast, convenient and affordable credit. The program is being implemented by the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC)—an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture.

The two farmers were among the 201 borrowers of BSDL that availed the PLEA Program from the municipalities of Sto. Domingo, Manito, Pioduran, and Oas (Pantao) in Albay; and Buhi and Bato in Camarines Sur.

BSDL released Php7,001,500.00 for these borrowers although ACPC has allocated Php20M pesos for this program.

According to Municipal Agriculturist Larry B. Balilo, farmers with a minimum area of 0.5 hectares of rice field and above can avail of the loan program. He encouraged all the farmers in his municipality to avail of the loan program. For Sto. Domingo, a total of 40 farmers availed.

San Isidro Barangay Councilor for Agriculture Juana Apuyan said that her constituents learned about the loan program through Balilo. Aside from the loan program, Apuyan hoped that the regular visit of the agricultural technicians to her barangay encouraged them to organize the farmers into an association, 4H club and Rural Improvement Club (RIC).

For Albay, the conduit banks include BSDL, Camalig Bank (CB), Rural Bank of Pilar and Rural Bank of Guinobatan. For Camarines Sur, the conduit entities are only CB and BDSL. (jaysonmgonzales)