THE FOOD unit of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has bought 436,209 metric tons (MT) of corn as of Sept. 30 as part of the company’s efforts to help farmers cope with the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement, SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said San Miguel Foods Inc. had been boosting its corn purchases across the country from farmer cooperatives that were hit by quarantine measures and logistics issues, which impeded the transport of their produce.

SMC is planning to buy more corn from farmers in Bukidnon and Pangasinan when their harvest season starts in the first quarter of 2021, he said.

“We will continue to help our local farmers however we can, and at the same time, ensure our supply of raw materials for food production. This pandemic has been a great challenge to all of us Filipinos and our economy, but we if we work together and contribute, we will be able to help out many sectors,” Mr. Ang said.

Further, he said SMC’s corn purchases had encouraged feed millers and local assemblers in boosting their procurement, such as those under the Philippine Association of Feed Millers (PAFMI).

He said the initiative is in response to the call of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for companies to continue assisting farmers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Back in May, we announced our plan to buy more local corn, to prevent farmers from losing their capital and having the corn just go to waste, and to secure our raw materials for food production. We’re fortunate that we have completed construction of many of our new, modern feed mills nationwide, equipped with large silos with aerators. This allows us to stockpile and store corn and other grains for a year,” Mr. Ang said.

Aside from corn procurement, SMC’s other initiatives include helping the agriculture sector such as the opening of the DA’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita stores at select Petron gas stations across Metro Manila and the buying of excess carabao milk that were distributed to communities. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave