San Miguel eyes 10 grain centers

By Amy R. Remo
Last updated 04:00am (Mla time) 06/29/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has expressed “high interest” in putting up 10 grain centers for corn worth roughly P5 billion, according to an agriculture official.


Frisco Malabanan, executive director of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Rice Program, said in a briefing yesterday that the Department of Agriculture (DA) was in talks with San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang concerning the project.


San Miguel buys yellow corn for its broiler and aquatic feeds business.


“We are encouraging San Miguel to push through with this project as these centers could benefit corn farmers, processors and end-users,” said Malabanan.


Malabanan said San Miguel’s main purpose for putting up these grain centers was to help stabilize corn prices.


Corn is a closely watched commodity because fluctuations in selling prices affect the price of feed.


It currently trades at about P13 a kilo.


Malabanan said the proposed grain centers with silos, dryers and shellers would be put up in corn-producing areas such as Quirino, Cagayan, Isabela, Occidental Mindoro, Saranggani, Pampanga, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Pangasinan and North Cotabato.


Although the project is still in the “exploratory stage”, Malabanan said the DA and San Miguel were scheduled to go to Mindanao next month to inspect two grain centers in the region.


For its part, DA would provide technical and marketing assistance to San Miguel and help corn farmers reach their target production to make full use of the grain centers.


DA would also provide farmers with necessary postharvest facilities and corn hybrid seeds.


With these seeds, facilities and centers, Malabanan said the DA and San Miguel were confident of meeting corn production targets.


For this year, the DA targets corn production to reach 6.92 million metric tons, following the implementation of special projects aimed at enhancing the profitability of corn growers.


DA is also undertaking a massive corn planting program this year that would involve the use of hybrid seeds in at least 132,000 hectares of farmland all over the country.


This will help the poultry and livestock sectors cope with rising prices of corn.


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