Banana grower did not meet loan requirements: Landbank

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    While Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) approved the loan application of Al Sahar Agri Ventures Inc. (ASAVI) amounting to P1.6 billion for the development of its 1,333-hectare cavendish banana corporate farm in Maguindanao, the bank said ASAVI did not sign the agreement as it was unable to comply with the requirements.

    The Landbank statement, which was sent by the Department of Finance to reporters yesterday, was signed by Julio Climaco Jr., the bank’s executive vice president.

    Landbank said it approved the loan on Jan. 10, 2017, under its “Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation” or HARVEST Program for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), to boost the agriculture sector in and around the BARMM, and promote lasting peace and development in Mindanao.

    “On Feb. 7, 2017, the bank sent ASAVI a Notice of Loan Approval (NOLA), with a Loan Agreement. However, ASAVI did not sign the agreement because it was unable to comply with the submission of a Cross Surety, which is part of the reasonable pre-requisites for a clean loan,” Landbank said.

    The banana company reverted back to Landbank in August 2018 or a year after, and only to inform the bank that it is already working on the compliance of the requirements, Landbank added.

    The bank said it has been in touch with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform and the Ministry of Local Government in BARMM, through its local lending center.

    A meeting was also held last October 9 to discuss how the bank can extend assistance to affected farmers through its direct lending programs for individual farmers.

    “It is unfortunate that farmers employed in ASAVI have been affected by this development.

    We recognize their dilemma and understand their concerns,” Landbank said.

    “Landbank has been vigorously pursuing programs in the BARMM area that contribute to the local economy and in empowering farmers in the region in response to the directive of President Duterte to help uplift the lives of small farmers in the countryside,” it added.

    Landbank said as of August 31, 2019, 77 accounts of farmers’ cooperatives and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are already enrolled under the HARVEST Program amounting to P215.83 million, while a total of 37 accounts which amount to P506.79 million are awaiting concurrence from JICA for enrolment to the HARVEST Program.

    Landbank also said it assisted a total of 16,108 farmers in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
    As of Aug. 31, 2019, outstanding loans in Maguindanao reached P1.9 billion, while in Lanao del Sur, P243.29 million.

    These supported SMEs, large agri-corporations, countryside financial institutions and cooperatives as well as individual farmers under the bank’s various loan programs, namely the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, Empowering Barangays in Remote Areas through Credit and Enterprise, and the Sikat Saka Programs, among others.