MANILA – Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) said outstanding loans to agriculture and rural development reached PHP713.8 billion in the first half of the year.

In a statement on Wednesday, Landbank said the amount accounts for about 69 percent of its PHP1.04 trillion loan portfolio during the period.

The bank said this is close to three times the 25 percent requirement for local banks to allocate financing for agriculture, fisheries and rural development (AFRD) under Republic Act No. 11901, or “The Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Financing Enhancement Act of 2022.”

Under the new law, AFRD financing is defined as loans and investments to finance activities that shall enhance productivity and increase the income of an agricultural and fisheries household, thereby promoting productivity and competitiveness in the agricultural sector, as well as sustainable development of rural communities.

“Landbank remains steadfast in fulfilling its primary development mandate to advance the country’s agricultural sector. With a holistic approach covering all players in the value chain, we will continue to extend accessible and responsive financing to ramp-up agriculture modernization and productivity, paving the way for more resilient local communities,” said Landbank president and chief executive officer Lynette Ortiz.

Of the PHP713.8 billion in outstanding loans, Landbank allotted PHP107.8 billion to agriculture and fisheries production, which includes funding for the processing of fisheries and agri-based products and farm inputs.

To help fast-track agriculture modernization, Landbank channeled PHP70.4 billion for the digitalization and automation of farming, fishery and agri-business activities and processes, including related financial and management information systems.

Landbank also provided PHP78.5 million for agri-tourism projects, which involve attracting visitors and tourists to farm areas for production, educational and recreational purposes.

The bank said PHP244.1 billion of the AFRD loans was earmarked for ramping up public rural infrastructure development covering highways, streets, bridges, transport systems, irrigation, public markets, slaughterhouses, warehouses, solid waste management, flood control, drainage and other essential infrastructure and development projects.

Meanwhile, PHP167 billion will be for sustainable projects that provide lasting benefits for both clients and society and also covers green finance which funds climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, among others.

Landbank said the rest of the AFRD financing supported farm and fishery entrepreneurial activities; agricultural mechanization; agricultural and fishery commodities; essential facilities, equipment and machinery; capacity-building activities; and projects that promote the health and wellness of farmers, fishers and Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs), including members of their households. (PNA)