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LANDBANK approves P162.8 M loans for Fish Buy Back Program

The LANDBANK team from Bohol has already conducted credit evaluation and approved loans for 16 fishers’ associations, alongside seven fish vendors and trader groups amounting to P162.8 million for the Fish Buy Back Program of the Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh).

This was the statement issued by LANDBANK PCEO Cecilia Cayosa Borromeo in her inspirational message during the ceremonial Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing for the program between the PGBh through Governor Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado and LANDBANK through PCEO Borromeo last March 10, 2023, at CPG Hall, New Capitol Building, Cogon, Tagbilaran City.

Borromeo said that LANDBANK Is more ready to support the program through the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or ACEF, which they jointly implement with the Department of Agriculture (DA), to extend affordable loans to their partners with a very low annual interest rate of only 2%.

She said the partner fishers’ associations could use the loans for their fishing equipment and inputs to boost their operations. Meanwhile, their partner trader groups can use the funds to regularly buy fish catch from the associations for commercial distribution.

Aside from providing a sure market for their catch, this buy-back scheme will likewise benefit consumers as we help reduce the consumer price of fish in Bohol.

The LANDBANK PCEO said that they welcome this partnership anew with the PGBh and BFAR, various fishers’ associations and trader groups to advance the local fishing industry in the province.

As they received this proposed collaboration last year, they welcomed it as it was a timely initiative to help fast-track the recovery of local fishers affected by Typhoon Odette, she disclosed.

Borromeo said that they are optimistic that this endeavor would be successful in the four priority municipalities of Getafe which have 7 people organizations, Talibon (4POs), Bien Unido (3 POs) and Buenavista (2POs), including the eventual roll-out of the program in other parts of the province.

On his part, Gov. Aumentado thanked the LANDBANK for this opportunity they have given to the PGBh to reduce the high price of fish and improve the livelihood of fishers’ associations.

However, Gov. Aumentado asked LANDBANK PCEO Borromeo that the annual interest rate of 2% could be lowered to 1.5%.

Aumentado said that his administration is seriously looking into the problem of the high price of fish in the province, thus the fish buy-back program has been established to provide the fisherfolks the needed funds with the low-interest rate for them to repair pump boats/bancas, fish gear and other fishing equipment.

In the program’s rationale, the Chairman of the Task Force Isda Engr. Ricardo Oblena said that since before there is a persistent public clamor that the prices of fish in the province have soared so high as compared to other provinces, thus PGBh has to address this perennial problem.

Oblena said the Provincial Cooperative Development Office (PCDO) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) spearheaded the identification of the 16 People’s Organizations and strengthen their organizations.

He stressed that the MOA has bound the collaboration and partnership between the provincial government, LANDBANK, BFAR,16 POs and 10 cooperatives/Fish Traders Groups.

Renato Auxtero, PO president in Talibon in his message of acceptance assured the PGBh and LANDBANK that they handle this program with care as he thanked the LANDBANK and the provincial government through Gov. Aumentado for the program.

Provincial Administrator Asteria Caberte in her closing remarks lauded the MOA signing as a manifestation of the genuine efforts of the provincial government to address the problem.

Caberte also thanked the LANDBANK, fisher’s association, and traders to venture into this program as she is hopeful that with this collaborative effort, the goals to increase fish supply and eventually inexpensive the prices would be achieved. By Atoy Cosap