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Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has announced the release of P100-million fund to finance the agricultural production initiatives of cooperatives and individuals in Isabela province at a minimal six-percent annual interest.

He announced the fund support in the farmer’s forum on Tuesday at the Francisco L. Dy Memorial Coliseum attended by some 6,000 villagers in the province.

“We must ensure that those who will be given loans will spend the money for the purpose, not on other things,” he said.

Piñol said he instructed regional agriculture directors to check for backgrounds of the debtors.

“We would be willing to gamble on Filipino farmers. Let us give them a chance,” he said.

Pinol said the loan repayments of debtors would be enough to bankroll another round of soft loans.

Meanwhile, Pinol said they will probe possible existence of a rice cartel amid the high rice prices in Isabela and other parts of the country.

Piñol said he would help uncover suspected rice cartel from Bulacan and Binondo, Manila to put a halt to the unstable price situation.

“There are these traders from Bulacan and Binondo who speculate to control prices and have a higher peg. We must stop this rice cartel,” the agriculture secretary said.

Suspecting that people behind the rice cartel were the ones behind moves to oust him, the agriculture secretary said he was happy that President Duterte “did not believe them.” (PNA)

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