UCPB-CIIF Finance and Development Corp., the social development arm of the UCPB Group and CIIF Group, continued to pursue its mandate of delivering much-needed credit to the countryside in 2017, releasing P602 million in new loans to 10,499 farmers in 30 coconut provinces during the year.
The loans financed the livelihood projects the farmers undertook last year to generate extra earnings to augment their income from their farms.
The funded projects were mainly short-gestation ones that provided quick returns, such as cash crop cultivation, livestock raising, commodities trading and village-based processing of coconut by-products like coconut sugar.
UCPB-CIIF Finance President Edgardo Amistad said the high 94-percent collection rate would indicate most of the farmers earned enough from their livelihood projects last year to be able to repay their loans.
Amistad said UCPB organized UCPB-CIIF Finance in 1994 to give coconut farmers access to credit so they can engage in alternative livelihood activities to supplement their farm income.
Coconut farmers have among the lowest income in the agriculture sector with their small farms, ranging in size from 1 hectare to 5 hectares, yielding average earnings from P15,000 to P40,000 per hectare per year only.
Owing to their small size, remote location and the higher risks of microenterprises, coconut farmers have difficulty accessing credit from formal sources for their livelihood activities.
Since it started lending in 1995, UCPB-CIIF Finance has pumped in P9 billion in loans to 62 coconut provinces benefitting 436,067 farm households there.
A sister-company, the UCPB-CIIF Foundation, is also implementing a scholarship program that has sent 2,857 children of coconut farmers to college and trade schools.
More than half or 1,852 of the UCPB-CIIF scholars have already graduated, and seven in every 10 are already earning enough to be able to provide regular financial support for their families’ household expenses and their siblings’ education.