DA launch­ing farmer, fish­er­man data­base pro­gram

The Philippine Star - - BUSINESS - By CATHER­INE TALAVERA

The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA) is launch­ing the Na­tional Farm­ers and Fish­er­men Data­base (NFFD) this quar­ter to bet­ter iden­tify ben­e­fi­cia­ries of its credit pro­grams, its top of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day.

In a Face­book post, Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Piñol said the NFFD would use in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy to store in­for­ma­tion about ev­ery farmer and fish­er­man in the coun­try, in­clud­ing the geo­tagged lo­ca­tion of his farm and house.

“It will also in­di­cate what in­ter­ven­tions he has re­ceived from gov­ern­ment, like loans, seeds, boats, farm in­puts and oth­ers, and the re­sults of the in­ter­ven­tions,” Piñol said.

He added the pro­gram would in­clude the eco­nomic pro­file of the fam­ily at the start of the in­ter­ven­tions, specif­i­cally poverty level, and mon­i­tor im­prove­ments af­ter two years.

“All the in­for­ma­tion con­tained in the data­base of the NFFD will only be ac­ces­si­ble to Pres­i­dent Duterte, the sec­re­tary of agri­cul­ture and key of­fi­cials of gov­ern­ment and the agen­cies im­ple­ment­ing in­ter­ven­tions,” Piñol said.

Piñol said the pro­gram is ex­pected to ef­fec­tively as­sist the DA in tar­get­ing the real ben­e­fi­cia­ries of its pro­grams, es­pe­cially the Easy Ac­cess Credit Pro­gram un­der the Agri­cul­tural Credit Pol­icy Coun­cil (ACPC).

He added that it would also weed out “fake farm­ers” who usu­ally take ad­van­tage of gov­ern­ment’s as­sis­tance by pre­sent­ing them­selves as ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

Mean­while, the agri­cul­ture chief said the Na­tional Food Author­ity (NFA) would be a di­rect ben­e­fi­ciary of the NFFD, par­tic­u­larly through its ag­gres­sive lo­cal palay pro­cure­ment pro­gram.

“With this pro­gram, the NFA will be able to de­ter­mine whether the palay de­liv­ered to its buy­ing sta­tions re­ally came from the farmer or was just con­sol­i­dated by traders who would like to take ad­van­tage of the higher gov­ern­ment sup­port price,” Piñol said.

The NFFD will also ac­cu­rately record all trans­ac­tions made by the farmer with the NFA and what in­cen­tives he will re­ceive, in­clud­ing the record­ing of his loans un­der the Cash Ad­vance Credit Pro­gram and the pay­ments he has made.

Piñol ear­lier said the DA is plan­ning to adopt a cash ad­vance sys­tem for farm­ers to slowly lib­er­ate them from loan sharks which hin­der im­proved rice pro­duc­tion of the coun­try.

He said he has di­rected the NFA and the ACPC to im­ple­ment the cash ad­vance credit pro­gram for rice farm­ers.

“In many farm­ing ar­eas all over the coun­try, the ab­sence of credit pro­grams has pushed farm­ers to loan sharks and lo­cal traders who give them cash ad­vances at atro­cious in­ter­est rates and who also cor­ner the farm­ers’ pro­duce dur­ing har­vest time buy­ing it at prices they dic­tate,” Pi­nol said.

The cash ad­vance is com­monly used for buy­ing seeds, fer­til­iz­ers and other farm in­puts, as well as to pay for la­bor and other per­sonal needs.

“This is a re­sponse to the prob­lems raised by many rice farm­ers who said that they could not de­liver their pro­duce to the NFA, even if it of­fers a higher price, be­cause they have bor­rowed money from the lo­cal traders and fi­nanciers at very high in­ter­est rates,” Piñol added.

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