Bukidnon corn farmers snub price subsidy program of NFA, private buyers

Not a single corn farmer or group has sold produce through the Corn
Marketing Assistance Program for Industry/Producers/ Users and Local
Government Units, NFA public information officer Ma. Socorro Mellomida said.

She added they were intensifying their public information campaign to
promote the marketing package.

Funding for the price subsidy program arrived after the peak season for corn
harvest in the province had passed and when corn supply had dropped, Gil G.
Tabor, NFA Bukidnon officer in charge, told MindaNews Monday.

NFA described the program as an augmentation of the government's role to
stabilize grain prices. Under the program, NFA acts as a middlemen between
bulk corn buyers like feed mills and the corn farmers. Corn buyers add up a
premium price, ranging from P1.00 to P1.50 per kilogram, to the government's
buying price.

Tabor revealed the need to improve the program's bidding system to ensure
funds are ready when the supply of corn is high and the price low. "The
program does not serve its purpose at all if we don't finetune it," he said.

Tabor said while the peak season for corn harvest in Bukidnon is between
July and August, the NFA received most of the premium funds for the program
only in September.

"The NFA price is higher than the market prices now, but we have low supply
of corn now," he said.

He, however, said the program targets mostly farmers' cooperatives and
associations, not individual and small scale farmers.

Mellomida said that as of October, the NFA has only received payment for at
least 2.6 million kilograms out of 4.35 millions contracted in the program.

She said the NFA has contracted five bulk corn buyers, mostly from Misamis
Oriental, for the program.

Tabor said a group was yet to deliver at least 1,000 bags of corn which it

He said it was not possible for the group to deliver the 4.36 million
kilograms contracted volume.

The program, according to an NFA statement, is intended to help the buyers
secure supply and provide farmers easier access to higher prices. It is on
its introductory phase which runs from July 2006 to January 2007.

The program, the statement said, aims to raise corn prices in selected areas
from P7.00 to P8.50 per kilo for yellow corn variety and from P8.50 to
P10.00 per kilo for white corn varieties.

Mellomida said the NFA recognized the problem but that they are still
pursuing the information drive so that traders will still buy from farmers
at a higher price in the market even if they are not part of the program.