Businesses note agribusiness potential of PHL’s corn capital

MARKET players are noting the vast potentials of Cagayan Valley with the top official of the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize) noting it as a “very important” region for the corn sector.

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, PhilMaize President Roger V. Navarro noted Cagayan Valley’s role as the country’s leading producer of the commodity.

“Cagayan Valley area is a champion in corn production. Basically they just produce corn and not subjected to any other competing crops like for example in Bukidnon and Cotabato areas,” Navarro said in an interview on Sunday.

Cagayan Valley region, or Region 2, produced 1.837 million metric tons in 2017, which was 23 percent of the country’s total output of 7.914 MMT. The region’s total output last year was 9.47 percent higher than the 1.678 MMT it produced in 2016.

Region 2 contributed to the country’s corn production boosting it to 4.66 percent in the first quarter, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.

“This was attributed to early harvest in Cagayan Valley as farmers planted earlier than usual due to the onset of rainfall and enough soil moisture content during cropping period,” the PSA said.

Backstop, support

NAVARRO said, however, the region remains to be a raw producer of corn as a “huge” capital would be needed for farmers to venture into value-adding.

“Value-adding needs a lot of investment to fractionalize the chemistry of your corn output to supply specific industries or special market segments,” he explained.

“For example, even our rice and corn blend project, which is about 50 million, is yet to be acted upon by the DA. How much more if it is value adding?” Navarro explained. “So what happens now pa-tingi-tingi lang yung value-adding, [value-adding is done in trickles] such as cooked corn products and decoration ornamentals.”

Edmar de Luna of Silverio Agricultural Supply Inc. also points to the government as the impetus for greater agricultural production.

De Luna noted that, while Iligan City was proclaimed as the country’s “corn capital” in 2015, Isabela and Cagayan provinces remain, respectively, as the second and fourth-biggest Palay producers.

“Obviously, agricultural business really fits here,” de Luna said.

But de Luna admits his business has been badly affected by competition.

There were “new players [that] entered our town just a year ago,” and they cut into our market share, he said. De Luna said he had to lower prices but which also cut into the businesses’ bottom line.

“For the four to five years, we are planning to venture [into] agri-related businesses, like grains trading and rice
milling.”

With reports by Marc Wyxzel de la Paz

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Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas is a graduate of the UST Journalism School (Batch 2016). He currently covers agribusiness for the BusinessMirror. He joined the news outfit in August 2016.