DBP Supports Mindanao Muscovado Production
The Development Bank of the Philippines has committed to extend an initial P11-million revolving credit line to Sultan Kudarat Muscovado Farmers and Millers Corp. (SKMFC)-to boost its working capital in behalf of the farmers and millers in Sultan Kudarat.
The loan agreement was signed during the recent Second Partners Forum for Promoting Rural Industries and Market Enhancement (PRIME) program at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management auditorium in Quezon City.
SKMFC is one of the country’s leading muscovado producers and the biggest in Mindanao with an average production of about 320 tons of muscovado sugar a month. It is composed of two farmers’ cooperatives, eight individual millers and several farmers. It is based in President Quirino, a fourth class municipality in Sultan Kudarat.
The Philippine Development Assistance Program (PDAP), which has helped SKMFC grow into one of the most profitable groups in Mindanao, said that the loan will give the muscovado industry a much needed boost and solidify Sultan Kudarat’s position as the second largest source of muscovado sugar after Antique.
Muscovado sugar is one of the fastest growing organic products in the Philippines and is enjoying growing demand here and abroad, especially Europe. Its production is centered in Antique, Sultan Kudarat, Davao, Negros Occidental, Batangas and Abra.
Romy Carandang, who heads DBP’s microfinance unit that oversees the P200-million Organic Agriculture lending window, said that DBP extended the loan as part of its mandate to help spur development of vital industries in the countryside through loans at competitive rates.
DBP and PDAP have been working on joint projects since 2006 and the first fruit of the partnership was a P5-million loan last year to Tawi-Tawi-based Sitangkai Exports Corporation, one of the leading producers of seaweed in the Philippines.
PDAP executive director Jerry E. Pacturan said that PDAP, which is using funds from the Canadian International Development Agency, would work on more loan agreements with DBP as more farmer groups and cooperatives are now ready to take a bigger share of the growing market for organic products.
PDAP is supporting the growth of organic rice, muscovado sugar and seaweed through its PRIME project, which is designed to support enterprising communities by developing viable industries. This was born out of PDAP’s realization that focusing just on production and increasing productivity is not enough to increase farm income.
By : Melpha M. Abello