Press Release
January 18, 2016

Senate extends Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF)

The Senate today passed on third and final reading a measure extending the validity of the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF) to help farmers and fisherfolk improve their productivity and competitiveness.

Senate Bill No. 2951, which was approved with 20 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and no abstentions, amends Republic Act 8178 which replaced quantitative import restrictions on agricultural products, except rice, with tariffs and first created the ACEF.

The bill extends the life of the ACEF, which was set to expire last December 2015, for another five years, up until December 2020.

"Filipino farmers and fisherfolk are still among the poorest in our country. They need continuous support in training, education and capital, among others, to enhance their competitiveness amidst intensifying competition - the very essence of ACEF," Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and sponsor of the measure, said.

Under the measure, the fund shall provide the necessary credit to farmers and fisherfolk cooperatives and associations, including micro and small-scale enterprises.

Villar said that the new bill incorporates new reforms that will address the "reasons why ACEF had failed to deliver on its promised objectives," including the implementation of stricter guidelines to make sure that only legitimate farmers and fisherfolk will have access to the funds.

"We will strictly ensure that the projects that will be funded by the ACEF will really enhance the competitiveness of target project beneficiaries or sectors," Villar added.

Under the measure, about 80 percent of the fund will be in the form of credit with minimal interest. This means that only P5 million per cooperative and P1 million per individual be released for the acquisition and establishment of agri-based production and post-production, processing, machineries, equipment and facilities to be at par with modern agricultural practices.

Under the bill, the managing the credit facility will be tasked to the Land Bank of the Philippines.

For the remainder of the fund, 10 percent will be extended as grants for research and development of agricultural and fishery products, and the commercialization of such, including the upgrading of research facilities of qualified state universities and colleges, which again shall not exceed P5 million per project.

The remaining 10 percent will be used for the funding of a comprehensive and attractive grant-in-aid program for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and veterinary medicine education, to be implemented by the Commission on Higher Education.

Loan beneficiaries, for their part, shall carry not less than ten percent of the total cost of the project, which may be in the form of capital outlay, labor, project site, facilities, equipment and salaries.

"The agriculture sector needs the boost that ACEF can provide. In the spirit of inclusive growth that we are aiming for, we cannot deprive them of the support that they can get from the fund," Villar said. (Yvonne Almirañez)

News Latest News Feed