While it is raining profit for traders, local corn farmers stand to lose their lifeline as smuggled and imported corn pulled prices down to an all-time high at P9 per kilo.
Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PMFI) President Roger Navarro said the Department of Agriculture (DA) should conduct a probe on the plummeting corn price as it is feared to lead to a “collapse” in the food sector.
“Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director George Culaste reportedly claimed that no permit has been issued for incoming importations of corn… To my mind, this is not a good indication,” Navarro said.
“We reported this to DA Secretary William Dar and we are awaiting his action. These corn shipments will strike the fatal blow to the corn farmers who painstakingly harvested a huge 3.5 million tons, wet season crop,” he added.
PMFI data showed that some 6,000 metric tons (MT) of corn shipments are expected to arrive soon in General Santos City; 20,000 MT in Cagayan de Oro; 50,000 MT in Bicol; and 30,000 MT in Iloilo.
Meanwhile, Rodolfo Pancrudo, a farmer-owner of Pancrudo Farm in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, has asked the government to help them save their livelihood.
“Traders haggle for the lowest price and tell farmers, ‘Your corn is of low quality.’ That’s why farmers are forced to sell their corn even at only P9 per kilo because they need money. Otherwise, the harvest will just go to waste since there are no post-harvest facilities,” Pancrudo said.
Machines improve harvest
According to him, this may be the “ultimate plight of farmers since they neither enjoy corn support price, supposedly expected before from the National Food Administration (NFA) nor do they have post-harvest facilities to dry and store their corn.”
Mechanical dryers and storage facilities can help farmers to hold their sale of corn and wait until prices become more profitable.
Citing provisions of Republic Act 7607, Pancrudo said the DA is mandated to empower smallholder farmers to boost their productivity and income.
“Support for fertilizers and good seed varieties is also an important intervention Filipino farmers do not get, unlike farmers in neighboring countries as Thailand,” he said.