DA seeks privatization of 3 agri facilities in R-12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 February) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for the privatization this year of three corn post-harvest processing and trading centers in Region 12 that were operated by the abolished National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor).

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said they are currently working on getting the services of private entities to sustain the operations of the centers in the area under a public-private partnership scheme.

He was specifically referring to the facilities based in Banga town in South Cotabato, Malungon in Sarangani and Kabacan in North Cotabato.

“We are selling these facilities to the private sector. Before a decision was made to close down Nabcor, a proposal was already floated for a PPP arrangement for these facilities,” he said in a press conference here late Thursday afternoon.

President Benigno S. Aquino III approved last week the abolition of Nabcor, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) attached to DA, for being a “non-performing” firm.

Such decision was based on the findings of the Governance Commission for GOCCs that it has been operating at a loss.

Also abolished were the Philippine Forest Corp. and ZNAC Rubber Estate Corporation that were earlier linked along with Nabcor to the pork barrel scam.

Alcala said they are currently preparing to open negotiations with some private groups for the takeover of the Nabcor facilities.

The DA chief said they opted for such arrangement to ensure the proper monitoring and management of their operations.

“It could be a positive move for these facilities since the government runs a business quite differently with those in the private sector,” he said

But Alcala noted that if the privatization talks would fail for some reasons, he said the agency is open to negotiations with local government units and cooperatives in the area for the turnover of the facilities.

“That’s an option that we have been considering. Overall, our goal is to make this facilities run or operate on their own,” he said.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes earlier said the local government has relayed a proposal to DA Region 12 for the possible takeover of the facilities based in Banga town.

“We want to make sure that the operations of the facility will be sustained once Nabcor will cease its operations,” she said.

The governor said local farmers were also supporting such move, noting that the facility significantly helped improve the quality of their harvests as well as income these past years.

Nabcor’s modern corn post-harvest facilities were mainly designed to curb aflatoxin levels in corn.

Corn with very high aflatoxin levels, when eaten by animals or humans, could result in biological disorders or even death, a study earlier made by the Bureau of Post-harvest Research and Extension said.

The corn facility in Kabacan was established in March 2006 and was followed a year later by the Banga facility. The one in Malungon was opened in September 2007. (MindaNews)