Feed millers agree to buy more corn from local farmers

Published September 17, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

After receiving backlash for citing high local corn prices as the main reason for its decision to import 81,000 metric tons (MT) of feed wheat from the Black Sea and Australia, the Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (PAFMI) has agreed to buy more corn from farmers.

PAFMI President Nicole Sarmiento Garcia said members of her organization, which also happens to be the largest group of feed millers in the Philippines, is buying more local corn as reports of bumper crop from the on-going harvest boosted the feed millers’ confidence in the availability of yellow corn, which takes up over 50 percent of the local feed formulation.

Garcia, who also serves as the Executive Vice president of Vitarich Corporation, said another initiative the group will do is to secure contract growing with corn farmers.

Under this corn contract growing scheme, corn farmers are assured that feed millers will buy their produce, while the Department of Agriculture (DA) provides them with technical assistance.

A memorandum of agreement is now being worked out to implement this scheme, Garcia said.

Yellow corn is the preferred energy source in the animal feed formulation. To be specific, corn comprises 60 percent of the ingredients for the production of animal feeds, while the cost of feeds take up 80 percent of the cost of meat and chicken production.    

Two weeks ago, Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (Philmaize) and the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) asked the Philippine government to put a stop in rising feed wheat imports in the country to stop corn prices from falling further to the detriment of Filipino farmers.

In a statement, these agriculture lobby groups have sounded the alarm over the possibility of domestic corn prices to go down further from the already depressed price of P12 per kilogram (/kg) due to feed wheat imports coinciding with the harvest.

Their joint statement came days after Garcia announced that PAFMI will import feed wheat, a cheaper alternative to corn in feed making.

For her part, Garcia said at that time that feed millers have to import feed wheat due to the high price of local corn, which traders are quoting at P17 to P17.50/kg in Bulacan.  

Philmaize and PCAFI then claimed that this feed wheat importation by the members of PAFMI is “unfortunately bringing [corn] price further down to P12/kg or below.”.As of August 1, the country’s total corn stocks inventory was recorded at 732.18 thousand MT, an increase of 1.1 percent from the previous year’s same period level of 724.08 thousand metric tons, latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

In the Philippines, corn farmers normally have two cropping seasons, while harvests occur in September to October and January to February.