Monday, February 09, 2015

Entrepreneurial Farmer

Entrepreneurial Farmer
by Ambrosio R. Villorente

Diminishing Bats

Have you ever seen a bat? It is a mammal even it has pair of wings. It belongs to order Chiroptera of mouselike flying mammals. It is a mammal for it has mammary gland. It is nocturnal for bat sleeps during the day and stays awake at night.

Bat loves to stay in the cave as it was in Boracay Island. But not anymore today, for caves were destroyed for man’s pleasure. Bat manure is called “guano” which is applied to plants as fertilizer. Guano is rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. It is also rich of organic matter.

Guano is considered mineral. Anyone who wishes to collect guano must apply for a mining permit with concerned officers to quarry guano.

The Province of Bohol is the home of 35 species of bats. A close look at a bat shows it has big ears, small eyes, and a monstrous nose characteristic of an insect bat. The fruit bat resembles flying rat.

Pinoys Are Avid Savers

The Filipino consumers are one among the most optimistic buyers in the world. It equals with Indonesia for the number two spot. The two are behind India, the global leader according to the latest “Nielsen Consumer Confidence Survey.” 

The market research firm reported that consumers from the Philippines exhibited a 5-point increase in the confidence index during the fourth quarter of 2014 which leveled with Indonesia consumers’ 120-point score.

This optimism is shared across Southeast Asian region with five of six ASEAN markets which showed similar levels of optimism.

The Philippines, with this index score got one of the biggest quarterly increases globally with a 5-point jump from the previous quarter. India held on to number one with 129 C+3 points. It is the biggest among the 60 countries measured.

Thailand is fifth with an index score of 111, 2-points less from the previous. Consumer confidence level in Vietnam and Singapore remained relatively strong. Malaysia has 89-points, 10-points less than the third quarter of 2014.

According to the poll, 79 percent of the Filipino respondents felt bullish about their personal finances, while 50 percent believed it was a good time for people to buy the things they wanted and needed.

The Filipino consumers continued to be among the world’s most avid savers. Some 63 percent of the Filipino respondents assured they prioritized saving their spare cash compared to consumers in the region and globally.

Agriculture Credit

One of the keys to agriculture development is accessible credit. This is the conclusion arrived at by leaders and stakeholders at a conference. These leaders are former members of the Cabinet and heads of major agri-business organizations.

According to Dr. Emil Javier, of the total loans the banks gave in 2013, only 1.9 percent went to farmers and fisher-folks. Since processing and agribusiness are less risky, less than one (1) percent of that amount went to production.

Dr. Javier is the former Secretary of Agriculture, former UP president and former Chancellor of UP at Los Banos, Laguna. He is now chair of the Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines.

Only 26 percent of the six (6) million farmers and fisher-folks got credit. From this small number, only 57 percent got credit from formal sources like banks, all the rest paid much higher interest rates from informal sources.


Former NEDA Secretary Cielito Habito recommended to strengthen our institutions so that services like in agricultural credit are more accessible for agricultural development to take place.

Senen Baconi, former Secretary of Agriculture identified the Landbank of the Philippines as an institution that has done commendable works. But it is hindered from fulfilling its principal mandate by constraints, by its fiduciary responsibility to its private sector depositors.

The LBP 2013 Annual Report states that only 36 percent of its P227 billion loan portfolio went to agriculture, 24 percent to agribusiness and agriculture related projects. Only 12 percent went to the targeted main sector of small farmers and fisher-folks. About 64 percent of that loan portfolio went to non-agriculture related projects such as in energy, housing, transportation, and small and medium enterprises.

If LBP is primarily for agriculture, why do these other sectors get two thirds (2/3) of the loan portfolio? Why is it that only 12 percent went to small farmers and fisher-folks?

Who is the leader, responsible and accountable official for agricultural credit? Almost all points to the Secretary of Agriculture. But it would be unfair to place the entire burden on him. The Secretary of Finance influences financial institutions and the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas provides the lending environment for agricultural credit to take off.

Bacani recommended that LBP must become purely government bank without fiduciary responsibility to its private depositors and take the necessary risks to service small farmers and fisher-folks. Increase LBP staff members to help farmers prepare their loan proposals and minimize bank loan requirements. /MP

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