Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Farmers seek higher corn-program budget.
Corn farmers led by the Philippine Maize Federation (Philmaize) will be asking the National Government to increase the annual budget of the Department of Agriculture’s corn program to P1.2 billion from the current P600 million.
Philmaize said this is one of the resolutions they will present to President Benigno S. Aquino III during the Seventh National Congress which will kick off on Oct. 6 in Isabela.
“The funds for the corn program could be used to provide the necessary postharvest infrastructure for farmers,” said Roger Navarro, president of Philmaize, in an interview.
Navarro noted that around 30 percent of corn produced by farmers is lost due to the lack of the necessary postharvest facilities.
Aside from the increase in budget for the government’s corn program, Philmaize will also ask the government to consider the removal of fees and taxes imposed by the National Food Authority and local government units on farm machineries.
The group will ask the government to make available special windows for loans in “corn belts” for postharvest centers. Philmaize recommended that the maximum interest rate for such loans should be pegged at 6-percent per annum.
Philmaize is also seeking the estasblishment of a Corn Farmers Cooperative Bank as well as the immediate passage of a bill that seeks to establish a national extension system for the farm and fisheries sectors.
“Once these concerns are addressed, we will not only be able to produce more corn, but it may also boost our capacity to export corn in the near future,” said Navarro.
The Seventh National Corn Congress will coincide with the inauguration of the Reina Mercedes Corn Processing Center, the country’s biggest corn postharvest facility.
For 2010, corn production may decline by 11.7 percent to 6.22 million metric tons (MMT), from 7.03 MMT in 2009.
The expected decline in corn production is due to the adverse impact of the El Niño weather phenomenon which destroyed standing crops and delayed planting in major corn-producing areas in the Philippines.
By Business Mirror
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