Bukidnon, Mindanao major corn producer, and NFA’s lower buying price
(First published at MindaNews.com) The National Food Authority (NFA) Council’s decision to cut its buying price of yellow corn grains from P13 to P10 per kilo amid the already very low price in the market drew flak not only from farmers but also from members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan here.
Board member Glenn Peduche, an enterprising farmer, said the government’s move was uncalled for. “It is unbelievable. It is not a question of who benefits from this. Clearly, corn farmers will be affected,” he told MindaNews after the provincial board’s regular session Wednesday. The provincial board then passed a resolution urging the council to review its decision for the sake of the corn farmers.
Jessup Navarro, NFA administrator issued two orders on August 27 ordering that effective on the same day buying price should be adjusted along with the incentives.
He cited four reasons behind the decision, including the assumption that the cost of production decreased due to the reduction of farm inputs, particularly fertilizer.
The NFA placed production cost at P6 to P6.50 suggesting that the new price of P10 per kilo assures farmers of return on investments in the range of 35 to 40 percent.
Peduche hit the move saying instead of helping farmers at a time when market prices are low, the government weakened its mechanism to influence the market prices.
Officials of the PhilMaize Foundation Inc. have criticized the NFA’s capacity to influence the market when it bought corn at P13 kilo for a volume estimated to be less than 15 percent of the supply volume. They have sought for more funding over the P3.9 billion pledged to address the price cut.
Peduche said, instead, the government lowered its buying price.
“If prices of fertilizer went down, it should not be quick to judge that farmers are better off,” he said.
The NFA has announced that the reduction will also allow them to buy additional volume as it has increased yellow corn procurement target for 2009, without specifying it in the order.
Navarro said in the order that NFA also plans to export with the excess yellow corn supply, to “prop up current farm prices”.
The provincial board wasn’t buying and has passed the resolution questioning the NFAC decision and calling for a return to the P13 per kilo buying price.
Bukidnon is Northern Mindanao’s biggest corn producer with close to 70 percent of the 369, 630 metric tons so far this year, according to the Department of Agriculture regional office.
Agriculture regional director Lealyn Ramos told MindaNews the government has done “best efforts” in deciding to reduce the buying price. She said there were representatives from stakeholders, including corn farmers in the NFA Council when they deliberated on the reduction.
Ramos, along with the NFA regional director and the provincial agriculture officer of Bukidnon appeared at the provincial board session Wednesday to shed light on the reduction.
She defended the NFAC decision, adding she is confident the new price would still influence the price in the market.
NFA buys corn following a screening scheme called equivalent net weight factor (ENWF) which provides standards, including moisture content.
The NFA’s role is to provide mechanism to help influence the prevailing prices in the market. When prices of corn plunged from P13 down to a range of P7.50 to P9 in the market, corn farmers can sell to NFA at P12 to P13. But the NFAC decision changed all that.