Corn industry asks government for more mechanical dryers rather than cash aid

IRRI

THE Philippine Maize Federation, Inc. (PhilMaize) said the provision of mechanical dryers will have a bigger long-term impact on the corn industry than financial or food aid for farmers.

In a statement, PhilMaize President Roger V. Navarro said mechanical dryers enable longer storage of corn, allowing farmers to wait out unfavorable swings in prices.

Mr. Navarro said mechanical dryers will also help rice farmers meet the requirements of the National Food Authority (NFA) for buying palay or unmilled rice, which must have a moisture content of 14%. The ideal moisture content for corn is 15.5%.

NFA purchases palay from farmers at P19 per kilogram.

Mr. Navarro said farmers who do not have access to mechanical dryers opt to put their palay along the provincial road system for sun drying, contaminating their produce with stones and dirt and lowering yields.

He added that road drying is not possible during the rainy season.

“We can still see farmers drying their produce on the highways. We must resolve this problem first and foremost. This is a fundamental infrastructure intervention support that the government should do. Or else it will fail in its mandate and can therefore be charged with dereliction of duty,” Mr. Navarro said.

Mr. Navarro said the group is wary of plans to hand out excess rice tariff collections to farmers, at P5,000 each.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform in October approved a resolution that would give financial assistance to farmers from excess revenue generated by rice tariffs.

Mr. Navarro said the money from excess rice tariffs should be used to empower farmers.

“More funds should be invested for long-range and sustainable projects that farmers badly need, which are post-harvest and storage facilities,” Mr. Navarro said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave