San Miguel Corporation made good on an earlier commitment to protect farmers’ income and ensure the country’s stable food supply in the coming months with its purchase of 69 million kilos of corn to date from farmers nationwide, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture.
SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said that the company, through its San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI) has ramped up the sourcing and purchasing of corn and other agricultural outputs to help farmers who are unable to move their produce due to the Luzon-wide quarantine that has also affected food production and distribution.
To help offset the impact of COVID-19 on farmers, he said payment for purchases are released promptly so that farmers can have a steady source of income in these trying times.
Recently, the company purchased 92,000 kilos of corn from farmer-cooperatives in Central Luzon and Pangasinan as identified by the DA.
Ang said the company is expecting 50,000 kilos of corn from Camarines Sur. Another 100,000 kilos will come from the Maymatan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Camarines Sur, during the period of May 26 to June 15.
“We expect to purchase more corn from farmers in the coming weeks as we continue to secure agreements with farmers in many corn-producing regions in the country. We thank the Department of Agriculture for giving us the opportunity to help our farmers get a ready market for their products at pre-agreed and guaranteed prices,” Ang said.
He added that with the long-term agreement, SMC was able to source a significant portion of total corn purchases,so far, through the DA’s support and network. Apart from corn, SMC has also called on farmers of rice, cassava, coconut oil, and other farm products to come forward through the assistance of the DA.
“The farmers are at the core of our food production and they are even more essential and vital during this pandemic. We encourage more to come forward and help us secure the needed ingredients and raw materials for our food production,” he said.
Earlier, SMC’s agreement with the DA had allowed it to purchase four million kilos of surplus corn that is enough to produce feeds for over 7 million live broilers, that can eventually feed 4 million families in one day.
Also identified as possible sources of corn is the province of Cagayan, where there are 25,000 hectares of corn farms, and cooperative heads in Tuguegarao for cassava.
As part of its agreement with the DA, Petron gas stations in Metro Manila are also being utilized as outlets for farmers’ produce, through the agency’s “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” rolling store program. This initiative has made locally-grown fruits and vegetables accessible to consumers at reasonable prices and gave added distribution channels and a ready market for local farmers.
The DA has started to operate two “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” pilot stores at Petron Katipunan, near La Vista subdivision and Petron Zabarte station in Caloocan, with more coming.
These DA rolling stores complement SMC’s own efforts to make fresh poultry, meats, and ready-to-eat products available to consumers through Petron gas stations. Currently, there are 30 reefer vans-cum-rolling stores serving different locations throughout the metro.
Meanwhile, six Petron Treats stores were also initially tapped as pick-up areas for San Miguel Foods Inc.’s new online ordering platform, www.order.sanmiguelfoods.com, further boosting food accessibility.
At the start of the ECQ, SMC committed to 24/7 operations of its food facilities to ensure a stable food supply for at least six months or beyond.