THE Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) is crafting a program for the corn industry that will put up infrastructures for corn production and processing that will help stabilize the supply and price of corn.
"The Mindanao Corn Development Program (MinDACorn) is designed to protect farmers from the exploitative buying price while ensuring a steady and sustained supply of feed grains for Mindanao's livestock and poultry industry," Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Minda chairperson, said in a post on his official Facebook page.
Piñol said the program will involve the establishment of grains drying and storage facilities in key corn production areas of Mindanao.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that as of 2019, Mindanao accounts for 51.4 percent or 4.1 million metric tons of the total corn production in the country, which is around 7.9 million metric tons.
Key corn production areas in Mindanao based on PSA's data are Northern Mindanao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Barmm), and Soccsksargen. All three regions are among the five top corn producers in the country. As of 2019, Northern Mindanao produced 1.3 million MT of corn, Barmm produced 1.1 million MT, and Soccksargen with 1.1 million MT.
Minda is already looking at the establishment of drying and storage facilities in Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato, Davao del Norte, and Agusan del Sur.
A portion of the funding for the program will be coming from the 35.5 million Euro (P2.1 billion) grant from the European Union for the Mindanao Peace and Development Program - Rise Mindanao (Minpad - Rise Mindanao).
"The physical infrastructure will be funded under the EU grant for Rise Mindanao while the operating capital will be sourced from DBP or other government financing institutions with established feed milling corporations as marketing partners," Piñol said.
It also seeks to organize farmers and set good farming practices to ensure the production of high-quality corn.
Associations created through the program, like grains dryer and storage associations, "could generate huge profits for themselves and use these in improving and upgrading corn farming."
The creation of farmers associations and the establishment of grains drying and storage facilities are seen to help stabilize the supply and price of corn in the market.
"Farmers who belong to the associations could deposit their produce at the grains complex, which will be equipped with dryers and silos for long-storage, during peak harvest season when the price is very low," he said.
Piñol said, "the farmer will get an 'advance payment' for his corn equivalent to the prevailing market [price] and he will be given a 'Quedan' paper showing the volume of corn he has deposited."
"Say, if the prevailing market price is P10 per kilo and he deposits 20-metric tons, he will be given an 'advance payment' of P200,000. At off harvest season, when the price of corn goes up to P16 per kilogram (kg), the farmer could surrender his Quedan paper to his association and get the difference between the advanced payment of P10/kg and the prevailing market price of P16/kg," Piñol added.
He said after paying drying and storage fees estimated at P1/kg, the farmer could take home an additional income of as much as P100,000.
"The farmer will be protected from price manipulations during peak harvest season thus ensuring a better income," Piñol said.
He added that the assurance of a good price will also encourage the farmers to plant more.
The pricing scheme used for the program and the establishment of grain facilities will also protect feed millers and livestock and poultry growers from fluctuating corn prices.
"Assured with a steady supply of corn even during the off-harvest season at predictable prices, feed millers could stabilize the selling prices of their produce and in the process, protect local livestock and poultry growers from the violent ups and downs of the price of feeds," Piñol said.
The stable prices of the corn will also help bring down production costs of livestock and poultry growers, who use corn as feeds.
"The challenge which needs to be addressed in this program will be the financial literacy and management capability of farmers associations which could be addressed by initially engaging a professional management team to assist them," Piñol said.