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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

The corn-producing town of Baungon, Bukidnon will soon serve as a model for other agricultural communities in Mindanao, even in the Philippines, on how to use its own resources in protecting its farmers.

On Thursday, leaders of the town, led by its mayor, vice mayor, councilors, farmer leaders and representatives of civil society organizations all agreed to establish its Municipal Corn Industry Development Program.

The Baungon Corn Industry Development Program will provide support and protection to the town's corn farmers who for ages have suffered from very high cost of seeds, farm inputs and agricultural machinery services and exploitation by traders who manipulate buying prices at peak harvest.

The program includes the acquisition of tractors, corn planters, harvesters, seeds and fertilizer loaning and a Corn Grains Silo Complex where farmers could deposit their produce at peak harvest to wait for a better price.

This concept actually was designed by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) as part of its Mindanao Corn Industry Development Program which is presented to the European Union-funded Mindanao Rise Program.

At least four pilot areas have been identified for this program, including one in Bukidnon Province, but Baungon was not identified earlier.

When I visited Baungon earlier this month, 27-year-old Mayor Giovanni Dahino presented to the MinDA team the problem of the corn farmers of very low prices.

Baungon is a major corn producing town of Bukidnon with an estimated harvest area of 7,000 hectares and an annual production of at least 45,000 metric tons.

Emphasizing that national government intervention on this problem could be very slow, MinDA presented the Mindanao Corn Grains Silo Storage Concept which the town could establish as an Economic Enterprise.

MinCOGSS involves the establishment of a grains storage facility to be owned by the Local Government Unit of Baungon and operated by its Economic Enterprise Office.

The program aims to stabilize the supply and price of corn to boost the region's livestock and poultry industry.

Under the program, Baungon's corn farmers will be supported by the LGU with tractor and harvest facilities, seeds and farm inputs on low-interest supervised loans payable after harvest.

At harvest time when farm gate prices fall, the MinCOGGS will protect farmers by allowing them to dry and store their corn in the silos.

The farmer will be issued a Quedan paper indicating the volume of corn he deposited.

Using the deposited produce as collateral, farmers could make a cash advance based on the prevailing price.

When the price of corn goes up after peak harvest, the farmer could surrender his Quedan paper and get the balance based on the prevailing price.

After the program orientation, which included a commitment of funding support from the Development Bank of the Philippines, MinDA's banking partner, Mayor Dahino, other local officials and the town's farmers unanimously endorsed the program.

The DBP Cagayan de Oro Lending Center head said the bank could lend up to 100% of the total capitalization requirements of the LGU in the Corn Grains Silo Storage Program.

By the second week of November, MinDA will conduct a two-day workshop for Baungon officials and farmer leaders to craft the details of the program.

Baungon officials said they would like to see the Economic Enterpirse Project operating before the end of 2021 in time for the last corn harvest of the year.

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