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Mindanao corn farmers get reprieve as San Miguel agrees to buy output.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said San Miguel Pure Foods Company, Inc. (SMPFC) has agreed to buy corn from farmers in Central Mindanao to stabilize buying prices and alleviate the burden of crop farmers.

In an interview with the Inquirer, Pinol said SMPFC would begin procuring the corn next week at an average P13 to P14 per kilo.

'The monthly procurement will be 15 million kilograms,' he said.

The Agriculture chief initially did not name the private company in an earlier statement, calling it only a 'huge corporation.'

He said the partnership between the company and the Department of Agriculture (DA) was 'personally approved' by San Miguel Corp. president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang.

He said the deal was brokered through what he called an 'urgent phone call' from Rolly Macasaet, whom the agriculture chief claimed is one of Ang's advisers.

Macasaet was also the Luzon campaign head for President Duterte in the May elections.

Pinol said he would meet Ang on Sept. 7 to formalize the partnership.

He also slammed traders for bringing down the buying prices of corn during the harvest season. In North Cotabato, for instance, he said the price fell from P17 per kilo to P11.

He said the DA was planning to tap other members of the private sector to invest in grain silos, which could store rice and corn grains in good condition up to a one-year period.

'This would provide leverage to the farmers, as they don't have to worry about their products,' he added. 'This will also stabilize the supply to millers and encourage our corn farmers.'

After farmers deposit their grains in the silos, Pinol said they could receive a partial payment based on the current market prices. When the prices go up after the peak harvest season, they could then sell their produce based on the prevailing market prices.

The farmers could earn the difference between the partial payment and the final purchase price after paying the storage fees, he added.

'Even if he pays P1 per kilo for the storage fee for a period of not over six months, a farmer who produces 4 metric tons of corn per hectare would get an additional P20,000,' he said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 20, 2016
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