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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

By the Second Cropping of 2021, farmers in the corn-producing town of Baungon, Bukidnon will be freed from the fear of low prices and the absence of drying facilities.

Last week, after a 3-day workshop sponsored by the Mindanao Development Authority, Baungon Municipality, under its young Mayor Giovanni Dahino, applied for a P100-M loan from the Development of the Philippines to build the first-ever local government-owned Corn Grains Storage Silos with a storage capacity of 4-million kilos per cropping.

The establishment of Corn Grains Storage Silos in the corn producing municipalities of Mindanao is an advocacy of the Mindanao Development Authority aimed at addressing an age-old institutional problem affecting the farmers and stunting the growth of the Corn Industry in Mindanao.

The problems are very basic and everybody in the Corn Industry knows this:

1. Absence of Drying Facilities which affects the quality of the corn production and deprives farmers of a premium price;

2. Absence of storage facilities at peak harvest season whivh results in the manipulation corn prices by traders;

3. Absence of a system which could protect farmers from predatory trading practices.

The end results of these unanswered problems are:

1. Low production due to profitability issues;

2. Fluctuating prices of corn thus affecting the prices of end products like livestock and poultry feeds;

3. High poverty incidence in the farming sector.

To be operated by an Economic Enterprise Office of the local government unit, the Mindanao Corn Grains Storage Silo System (MinCOGSSS) will offer farmers a virtual refuge from very low prices during peak harvest season.

Using the “Quedan” system used by the Sugar Industry, a corn farmer may opt to “deposit” his produce in the MinCOGSSS facility and just get a partial payment based on the prevailing market price or a price set by the Economic Enterprise.

Assuming that the farmer deposits 20-metric tons, he could get an advance of P10 per kilo or P200,000 and a “Quedan” document covering his corn deposit.

At off-harvest when the price of corn is expected to rise to say P15 per kilo, the farmer could surrender his “Quedan” and get the difference between the advanced amount and the selling price, less the drying and storage fees to be charged by the Economic Enterprise.

The MinCOGSS Program is being proposed by MinDA for inclusion in the Mindanao Rise Program funded by the European Union. Four pilot areas have been identified.

With Baungon town as the pilot area and model, MinDA’s Mindanao Corn Industry Development Program aims to establish Corn Grains Storage Silos with dryers in all corn-producing towns of Mindanao.

All of these MInCOGSSS member-municipalities will be linked up through a digital platform which would provide stakeholders an update on available supply and pricing on a daily basis.

The MinCOGSSS is expected to increase corn productivity in Mindanao as farmers would be assured of a good return for their produce.

This would also make the poultry and livestock industry competitive. Most of all, this would empower Mindanao Corn Producers who for the first time could dictate the price.

Some may ask: Why was this not done before or when Manny Piñol, the main proponent of the concept, was Agriculture Secretary.

The answer would be an indictment of a lumbering bureaucracy which is slow to adjust to problems in the field.

Any innovation in Agriculture would take years before being adopted as it would have to go through intense scrutiny by people who do not even understand agriculture.

A perfect example of this is the Solar-Powered Irrigation System (SPIS) program introduced by the Department of Agriculture and embraced by the farmers. Even with a standing offer from the Israeli Government for a low-interest loan of P44-B to fund SPIS units intended to irrigate 500,000-hectares, the program is still in limbo.

Any new program which goes through the national bureaucracy will take years before adoption and implementation.

On the other hand, local government units, given their fiscal autonomy, are more flexible.

New programs and innovations could be implemented by simply enacting an Ordinance adopting it and allocating funds using available budget or loan proceeds.

In Mindanao, Self-Reliance and Problem-Based Innovations are the guiding policies and the battle-cry.

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