MANILA, Philippines – Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) will increase their low-interest loans threefold. Next year, around Php30 billion in loans will be offered to farmers and fisherfolk, following the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to increase lending to the agriculture sector.

According to LBP President and CEO Cecilia Borromeo, direct lending will increase from the current Php9.3 billion. Interest will also decrease from 6 percent a year through cross-subsidy to 5 percent a year.

“We looked at the cost of our core deposit and capital and we think that 5 percent is something we can manage. We will subsidize that from our other commercial loans,” Borromeo said Wednesday night.

By 2020, LBP aims to lend Php265 billion to the agriculture sector, helping over two million farmers.

“We’re projective to increase our loan portfolio to the agriculture sector by at least 15 percent annually. In 2019, we’re looking to book a total of Php231.25 billion and target one million farmers,” Borromeo added.

The bank targets reaching Php350 billion by 2022 with consistent growth, assisting at least three million farmers in three years.

Currently, Landbank has 889,669 farmer-beneficiaries. They aim to double this number “by doubling the number of existing lending officers for the agriculture sector and opening more lending centers in rural areas,” Borromeo explained.

Another point of expansion for the bank is their branch network. Borromeo added that they aim to increase the network by 40 percent by 2022. Landbank aims to have 50 lending centers by 2020, up from the current 44.

Landbank Chairman and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that lending centers are typically set up in “underserved” areas. The board recently approved new lending sites in Lanao del Norte, Quirino, and Antique. (HGBH/LMO)

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