NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
The move to bring down the prices of fish finally sealed an agreement for loans with a two percent interest rate ready to be availed by sectors directly involved in the marketing of fish here.
The LandBank approved the granting of P162.8 million loan for 16 fishers’ associations, fish vendors and traders group under the “Fish Buy Back” program initiated by the Aumentado administration.
This was the statement issued by LandBank PCEO Cecilia Cayosa Borromeo during the ceremonial Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signing for the program between the PGBh through Gov. Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado and LandBank through PCEO Borromeo at CPG Hall, New Capitol Building.
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 the “Buy Back” program will be instrumental in reducing the price of fish in the markets.
The LandBank PCEO said that they welcome this partnership anew with the PGBh and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), various fishers’ associations and trader groups to advance the local fishing industry in the province.
She said the bank welcomed it as it was a timely initiative to help fast track the recovery of local fishers affected by Typhoon Odette.
Borromeo said that they are optimistic that this endeavor would be successful in the four priority municipalities of Getafe which have seven people organizations, Talibon (4 POs), Bien Unido (3 POs) and Buenavista (2 POs), 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.
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 fisherfolk the needed funds with the low-interest rate for them to repair pump boats/bancas, fish gear and other fishing equipment.
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 BFAR spearheaded the identification of the 16 People’s Organizations and strengthened 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 PO assured the PGBh and LandBank that they will handle this program with care as he thanked the LandBank and the provincial government through Gov. Aumentado for the program.
Provincial Administrator Asteria Caberte 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 prices would be achieved. (with reports from Atoy Cosap)