THE AGRICULTURE industry has asked the government to create price supports for corn because of price weakness resulting from competition from imported wheat for animal feed.

In a statement, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food, Inc. (PCAFI) President Danilo V. Fausto called the government’s attention to weak farmgate prices for corn, the major domestic crop used for animal feed.

“(The) government should immediately initiate a program to buy the corn being harvested at a viable price from the farmers for storage as buffer stock to support future demand during the non-harvest season,” Mr. Fausto said.

Philippine Maize Federation, Inc. President Roger V. Navarro said that feed millers recently imported 81,200 metric tons (MT) of feed wheat which depressed the farmgate price of corn to P12 per kilogram, against the industry’s expected price of around P15.

Mr. Navarro said the situation for corn growers worsened after the National Food Authority stopped purchasing corn from farmers after its operations were streamlined by Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

“Imports of feed wheat (are equivalent to) only 1 to 2% of corn production. But still, their effect in pushing down local corn price is significant, as feed wheat is usually a cheaper substitute for corn,” Mr. Navarro said.

Feed wheat imports are sourced from Australia, Bulgaria, the US, Canada, India, and Russia, among others.

The two groups cited a study by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) which found corn prices to have been significantly affected by feed wheat imports.

The study’s main finding was that the biggest impact on prices takes place when imports coincide with the corn harvest.

“This is more pronounced during the third quarter when… the bulk of the harvest (takes place) and the quality is affected by lack of mechanical dryers,” the PCC found.

PCAFI’s Mr. Fausto also urged the government to construct storage facilities and provide funding to contain the fall armyworm infestation.

“(The) government should protect our corn farmers especially during this time of crisis to allow them to survive. Importation of corn substitutes such as feed wheat should be regulated when corn is being harvested,” Mr. Fausto said.

The PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority) said second-quarter corn production rose 15.4% year on year to 1.35 million metric tons.

Harvested area rose 3.7% to 390,858 hectares while the yield rose 11.3% to 3.46 MT per hectare.

The average farmgate prices of yellow corn grain and white corn grain in the six months to June fell 11.2% and 8.7% to P12.41 and P14.01 per kilogram, respectively. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave