State-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) has granted a P500-million funding support to various farmer cooperatives in Albay as part of efforts to advance sustainable and efficient farming practices in the province, a top official said.
DBP President and Chief Executive Officer Michael O. de Jesus said the amount will finance the “Digital Rice Clustered Farming (DCRF) Project, which combines advanced automation, precision farming techniques, and data analytics to optimize resource utilization and increase small farmers’ annual yield by up to 30-percent.
“DBP recognizes the immense potential of this innovative farming initiative to elevate Philippine agriculture to greater heights,” de Jesus said. “Through this project, DBP is able to bring forward a revolutionary farming technology to the market and empower farmers to thrive in an ever-changing agricultural landscape.”
DBP is the eighth largest bank in the country in terms of assets and provides credit support to four strategic sectors of the economy – infrastructure and logistics; micro, small and medium enterprises; environment; social services and community development.
The DCRF Project is funded under the DBP’s Expanded Rice Credit Assistance under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ERCA-RCEF) which aims to promote inclusive growth and build a stronger rice sector in the country.
De Jesus said that the project will be implemented through joint efforts with the Provincial Government of Albay, the Department of Agriculture, the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, the National Food Authority, and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.
He said that the agencies will collaborate in the areas of planning and coordination, technical assistance and capacity building, infrastructure development, development financing, and value chain development.
“By combining our resources and expertise, we are able to create a robust framework that would address the needs of our farmers. This convergence also serves as a testament to our collective commitment to serving the best interest of our nation and fostering sustainable development in the agricultural sector,” de Jesus said.
De Jesus said that the DCRF initiative would consolidate individual rice farm holdings into larger farms which would result to lower production costs and improved farmers’ income by leveraging on economies of scale.
He said that the technology-enhanced farming solution would be utilizing a Digital Transformation Platform which includes the use of satellite imagery, machine learning, and artificial intelligence seen to significantly boost rice production by 28,000 metric tons (MT) annually with 2,000 hectares of land with upside production by up to 70,000 MT covering a cluster farm size of 5,000 hectares.
“DBP remains committed in providing the necessary funding assistance that will enable transformative agricultural initiatives to flourish, improve food security and contribute to the nation’s overall development,” de Jesus said.
De Jesus said that the DCRF Project will be piloted in the Province of Albay and has initially identified five farmer cooperatives to participate in the cluster farm project.
He said that the farm clustering and consolidation technique is recognized by the DA as one key strategy to scale up the Philippine agricultural sector, adding that the “…cluster farm system potentially being seen to become the epicenter of rice production in Albay…”
“The Bank’s funding support for this initiative signifies our relentless efforts to empower small farmers and agribusinesses to adopt new technologies and contribute to the achievement of the nation’s sustainable development goals,” de Jesus said.