Rubber tree farmers in Zamboanga Sibugay ‘bounce back’ during the pandemic

Goodyear Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (GARBEMCO) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) have been partners for rubber production in Zamboanga Sibugay since 1995, which helped sustain the co-op’s operations despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, through business diversification.

KABASALAN, Zamboanga Sibugay – For the past 28 years, Goodyear Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multi-Purpose Cooperative (GARBEMCO) has relied mainly on their 1000-hectare rubber and intercropped plantation to generate income for their 312 members who are Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs). But the COVID-19 crisis early this year dealt their rubber trading business with a heavy blow.

“GARBEMCO’s rubber trading halted during the pandemic. There were no traders, and manufacturing plants stopped operating. So the co-op had to focus on its other businesses to ensure income for its members,” said LANDBANK Zamboanga del Sur Lending Center Head Engr. Joselito S. Año.

Determined to stay afloat, the co-op turned to palay production and trading, and the operation of their consumer store and fishpond, among other businesses, which it already established early on through financial assistance from Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK).

Ang inspirasyon talaga namin para magpatuloy sa operasyon kahit na may pandemic ay yung aming pamilya at yung pamilyang nabuo namin sa co-op. Kaya nag-bayanihan talaga kami para lang masigurado na tuloy ang pinagkakakitaan at kabuhayan ng mga miyembro namin,” said GARBEMCO General Manager Lilia Manuel.

LANDBANK and GARBEMCO’s partnership started in 1995 when the co-op availed of the Bank’s Agricultural Production Loan (APL) and Short Term Loan (STL) for the capital of their rubber production, and later on used it to diversify its businesses.

“Ang laking tulong ng LANDBANK sa paglaki ng GARBEMCO. At marami pa kaming mga proyekto sa coop na gusto namin i-develop sa tulong pa rin ng LANDBANK, gaya ng agri-tourism through a hot spring resort,” GM Manuel added.

With the relaxing quarantine restrictions in the province, GARBEMCO is now starting to engage anew in rubber trading. The harvests that they stored in their warehouse for the last 5 months, totaling to some 350 tons of rubber, are gradually becoming profitable again for their ARB members.

LANDBANK remains steadfast in providing accessible financial channels to ARBs. As of June 2020, cumulative loan releases of two lending programs for ARBs and small farmers have already reached P583.35 million, under the Bank’s E-ARISE-ARBs (Expanded Assistance to Restore and Install Sustainable Enterprises for Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries and Small Farm Holders) loan program, and the CAP-PBD (Credit Assistance Program for Program Beneficiaries Development) Window III Program Extension.

For more information about LANDBANK’s Lending Programs, interested borrowers may contact the nearest open LANDBANK Lending Center or Branch nationwide, or call LANDBANK’s customer service hotline at (02) 8-405-7000 or at PLDT Domestic Toll Free 1-800-10-405-7000.

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