Loans to 3 firms seen to boost food security in Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 December) — Three Mindanao companies have accessed the P50- billion integrated financing program of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for their food and agri-processing projects this year.

Vice president Camilo C. Leyba, the head of LBP in the region, said Land Bank has approved the production and working capital loans of Davao-based Sagrex Foods Inc., the Trento-based Agumil Phils. Inc., and the South Cotabato company Biotech for their food and agri-processing projects which the government believes will boost food security in the region.

Sagrex Foods, which accessed P45 million from the Land Bank loan facility, is engaged in the pioneer production of microwavable cardava bananas for exports.

Agumil Phils is engaged in palm oil production in Agusan, Maguindanao and Palawan and Bohol while Biotech is engaged in feed milling business in South Cotabato.

The application of a fourth Mindanao company Anakciano, producer of the Sr. San Pedro grilled chicken based in Cagayan de Oro City, is still being processed, said Charlotte Conde, head of LBP Davao lending center.

Leyba said the government-controlled bank approved the four Mindanao firms’ application this year because of their potential to promote food security by increasing agriculture productivity and increasing the income of small farmers.

He said Sagrex Foods has developed relationships with a number of cooperatives in Tagum, Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley for the supply of cardava bananas.

Even Anakciano, whose application is still underway, has developed a growers program with small corn and livestock farmers in Misamis Oriental, he added.

LBP’s integrated food chain financing program lends out not only to big food processors and producers but also to small farmers. Available loans range from working capital and acquisition of transport facilities and processing equipment, to marketing and trading operations and capacity building for farmers’ organizations.

Leyba said he expects a bigger increase in the food chain financing next year because it has been identified among the priority thrusts of the Aquino administration.

“Any time, we expect an increase in the allocation for the program, which has been identified among the thrusts of the new administration for 2011,” Leyba said.

“The LBP head office has instructed us to identify at least two participants for the food supply chain this year, and we are still scouting of more projects which can avail of the facility,” he said.

Leyba said that Land Bank’s food chain financing program, a joint project with the Department of Finance and the Department of Agriculture, seeks to improve food security by increasing farmers’ income and improving the efficiency in the food production system. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)