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Landbank not to blame for ASAVI closure—official

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By Chino S. Leyco

The Sahar Agri Ventures, Inc. (ASAVI), a business venture in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), should not blame the Land Bank of the Philippines for the closure of its cavendish banana planation in Maguindanao.

In a statement released by the Department of Finance (DOF), Julio D. Climaco, Jr., Land Bank executive vice president, said ASAVI’s P1.6 billion borrowing from the state-owned lender failed to meet the “pre-requisites for a clean loan.”

While ASAVI’s loan was approved in January 2017 and an approval notice was issued the following month, Climaco noted that the banana company “did not sign the [loan] agreement because it was unable to comply with the submission of a Cross Surety.”

“The banana company only reverted back to Landbank in August 2018 or a year after, and only to inform the Bank that they are already working on the compliance of the requirements,” Climaco said.

The ASAVI loan, under Landbank’s Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST) program for BARMM, is for the development of a 1,333 hectare Cavendish banana farm in Maguindanao.

HARVEST, a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funded program, aims to boost the agriculture sector in and around the BARMM, and promote lasting peace and development in Mindanao.

ASAVI ceased its operations earlier this month citing the delayed release of a Landbank loan as one of the reasons.

But Climaco said that Landbank has been vigorously pursuing programs in the BARMM area, noting 77 accounts of farmers’ cooperatives and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are already enrolled under the HARVEST program amounting to P215.83 million.

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