SAN MIGUEL Corp. (SMC) said its food unit has purchased 69 million kilograms of corn from farmers to ensure adequate supply and prop up farmer incomes during the market disruptions caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a statement Friday, SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said that San Miguel Foods Inc. has stepped up purchasing of corn and other products to aid farmers, whose ability to reach markets has been hampered by the Luzon-wide quarantine.

“To help further offset the impact of COVID-19 on farmers, payment for purchases is released promptly so that they can have a steady source of income in these trying times,” Mr. Ang said.

SMC said that it expects to purchase more corn in the next few weeks, as the company continues to sign agreements with farmers in corn-producing regions.

“We are expecting 50,000 kilograms of corn from Camarines Sur. Another 100,000 kilograms will come from the Maymatan Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Camarines Sur, during the period of May 26 to June 15,” Mr. Ang said.

Together with the Department of Agriculture (DA), SMC has asked farmers of rice, cassava, coconut oil, and other farm produce to come forward and sell to the conglomerate .

In an earlier agreement with the DA, SMCs purchased four million kilos of surplus corn, sufficient to produce feed for over seven million broiler chickens.

SMC also identified the province of Cagayan as a likely source, with 25,000 hectares of corn farms and cooperatives specializing in cassava in the Tuguegarao area.

“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,” Mr. Ang said.

Petron fuel stations in Metro Manila are also being tapped as outlets for agricultural produce under the DA’s Kadiwa rolling store program.

The two Kadiwa pilot stores are located at Petron Katipunan, near La Vista subdivision. and Petron Zabarte in Caloocan, with more outlets to come in the coming months. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave