Grants prone to fail­ure, cor­rup­tion

Sun.Star Cebu - - BUSINESS - JEANDIE O. GALOLO / Re­porter @Je­andieee

While farm mech­a­niza­tion is con­sid­ered a gov­ern­ment pri­or­ity to aid in the re­cov­ery of the coun­try’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor, Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol has raised fears that equip­ment grants could be prone to fail­ure and cor­rup­tion.

“Hon­estly, I do not be­lieve that the equip­ment and ma­chiner­ies grants pro­gram is sus­tain­able. It is, in fact, vul­ner­a­ble to cor­rup­tion and po­lit­i­cal med­dling,” said Piñol said in a post on his of­fi­cial Face­book page.

He said de­cay­ing farm level grains cen­ters, aban­doned trad­ing posts, un­used grains dri­ers and farm equip­ment are tes­ta­ments to mech­a­niza­tion ef­forts, which were ei­ther rid­dled with cor­rup­tion or poor man­age­ment in pre­vi­ous years.

While he sup­ports mech­a­niza­tion in agri­cul­ture and fish­eries to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity and min­i­mize post-har­vest losses, the of­fi­cial sug­gested to pro­vide them with equip­ment through loans in­stead of grants.

“The loan will be col­lat­er­al­ized by the ma­chiner­ies and equip­ment that they will ac­quire and a two per­cent in­ter­est per year (that) will go to the lo­cal bank which would serve as the con­duit and man­ager of the loan pack­age,” he said.

Piñol sought the as­sis­tance of the Agri­cul­tural Credit Pol­icy Coun­cil (ACPC) Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Jocelyn Ba­di­ola and the Cen­tral Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Engi­neer­ing Di­vi­sion to de­sign what he called the Ma­chiner­ies and Farm Equip­ment Loans Pro­gram.

He also raised sev­eral con­cerns about the pro­gram.

The tech­ni­cal know-how of small farm­ers on op­er­at­ing and re­pair­ing farm equip­ment is one chal­lenge. But with the “Mak­i­nadong Magsasaka” pro­gram of DA in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (TESDA), Piñol said this could be ad­dressed.

The sec­re­tary also wor­ried about the man­age­rial and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment ca­pac­i­ties of farm­ers to prop­erly ac­count for the earn­ings of the equip­ment and loan am­mor­ti­za­tion.

“This is what scares me. Many gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives in the past failed be­cause these con­cerns were over­looked or ig­nored,” he wrote.

The Ma­chiner­ies and Farm Equip­ment Loans Pro­gram is be­ing pi­loted in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal for the Tiempo Muerto group, where sug­ar­cane work­ers ob­tained a P20-mil­lion loan to buy trac­tors, cane har­vesters and trucks.

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