Monday, October 11, 2010
P-Noy Opens SE Asia’s Biggest Corn-Processing Plant in Isabela
In Photo: Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy III (right) briefs President Benigno Aquino III and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on the status of corn production in his province shortly after the ceremonial launching of the P750-million corn-processing plant in Reina Mercedes, Isabela, last week. The plant (shown above) will be the biggest in Southeast Asia.
Reina Mercedes, Isabela. Believed to be the biggest in Southeast Asia, the P750-million corn-processing plant launched last week by President Benigno Aquino III in this agricultural town is seen to answer major postharvest problems confronting corn farmers in the region.
Exactly on his 101st day in office, Mr. Aquino spearheaded the inauguration of the multimillion-peso processing facility established by Mindanao Grains Processing Co. (MGPC) and the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. in barangay Nappaccu Pequeño here. MGPC is a unit of the La Filipina Uycongco Corp.’s group of companies.
Attended by thousands of local farmers from all over the country who were on the Seventh National Corn Congress held from Oct. 6 to 8 at the plant site, the President, with Isabela Gov. Faustino Dy III, Vice Gov. Rodito Albano, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and MGPC executives, led by its chairman Dr. Alfonso Uy, switched on the ceremonial button for the official launching of the facility.
“We are grateful to those who initiated this project. Certainly, it will benefit our local corn farmers and the industry, as well,” said Mr. Aquino.
Touted as the biggest in Southeast, the facility could process about 200,000 metric tons of yellow corn and its state-of-the-art bulk silos can store about 60,000 MT of corn grains for more than six months, according to company officials.
Facility officials would buy fresh corn-on-cobs, even with 30-percent moisture content, from farmers and process them into high-quality grains for feed milling. The cob byproduct will not be put to waste, as these will be used as biomass fuel for the dryers.
Mr. Aquino lauded the company’s use of advanced renewable-energy technologies, saying this will reduce greenhouse gas and will help attain energy self-sufficiency in the next years.
The corn farmers will be expected to get a 15-percent hike from their average income as traders and other layers of manual corn drying have been eradicated or minimized.
The President promised to augment initial small water-impounding projects and postharvest facilities for farmers in Isabela, aside from national government assistance for corn price subsidy. He did not detail any amount of the pledge.
Constructed on a 7.5-hectare development compound a few kilometers north of Cauyan City, the corn facility was designed to upgrade the quality and standards of corn processing.
Corn is a major ingredient for animal feeds. With a number of corn-growing towns, Isabela in the Cagayan Valley region is the leading corn-producing province in the country.
The facility has the capability of processing 100,000 MT of freshly harvested corn at a time. “With this project, our corn farmers will surely benefit in terms of technology and better return of investments. They will be inspired to produce more,” said Dy.
Mr. Aquino’s presence marked the festive mood of the closing rites at the Seventh Corn Congress held on Oct. 6 to 8. The congress is held annually to gather about 3,000 corn farmers and leaders, government and private agricultural technicians and private stakeholders to discuss issues and concerns for corn development and to propose resolutions for government initiatives and reforms to enhance the competitiveness of the industry.
The corn congress is part of the celebration of the World Food Month this October.
Mr. Aquino went to the processing shed, where he pressed the button key to dump the corn loaded at the Gator cart and later switched on the corn-sheller control panel to jump-start the operation of the corn facility.
During the program, Philippine Maize Federation president Roger Navarro presented to Mr. Aquino resolutions of the corn congress representatives. Corn advocates had asked the Aquino administration to hike the Department of Agriculture’s corn program budget from P600 million to P1.5 billion, to cover not only production but also postharvest facilities and development program.
Congress participants have also called for a corn farmer representative to the National Food Authority (NFA) Council and to ensure consistency of projects for NFA corn development fund and to remove NFA-imposed local fees and taxes on local government units. They also asked for a repeal of the revenue regulation requiring companies to withhold 1-percent withholding tax of the gross sales of farmers. The resolution was given to Mr. Aquino, who reportedly promised to review the issues and concerns of the corn farmers nationwide.
By Business Mirror
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