The Philippine Star

DA tightens rules on corn imports

- By LOUISE MAUREEN SIMEON

The Department of Agricultur­e has released additional guidelines and requiremen­ts for corn importatio­n in a bid to protect local farmers from declining prices.

In a memorandum circular, Agricultur­e Secretary William Dar issued new guidelines on the applicatio­n of sanitary and phytosanit­ary import clearance (SPSIC) for corn and wheat.

“This is in order to address the concerns of our local corn industry to manage corn importatio­n while ensuring enough corn supply for food and beverage processing, research and propagatio­n purposes,” Dar said.

During the main harvest season last September, farmers were at the losing end as prices hit a low of P9 per kilogram, way below production cost, which was blamed on imports and lack of government support.

With a surplus harvest, corn prices plummeted to a low of P9 per kilo, way below production cost of P11.20 per kilo. Prices should be about P13.25 for farmers to earn fairly.

During the virtual Philippine National Corn Congress Thursday, Dar said the decline in prices was partially due to lower demand for poultry due to the lockdown, as well as the continuing cases of African swine fever.

Majority of yellow corn is being used as feeds for livestock and poultry.

The Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize), for its part, said there is a need to rationaliz­e importatio­n to avoid disruption­s with local peak harvest period and not exacerbate the problem of storage.

“The displaceme­nt effect is not well understood by our government planners and decision makers who only look at the cost parity issue of our importatio­n of grains competing with local supply,” PhilMaize chairman Rod Bioco said.

“They failed to see that if the silos and warehouses of our end-users are full of imported grains bought even at higher cost during peak harvest season, our local corn would be displaced and prices would crash,” he said.

Based on the circular, commodity descriptio­n in the SPSIC applicatio­n should be clearly stated whether, corn, corn grits, corn seeds for research or propagatio­n, and wheat for feed or food use.

There should also be an affidavit declaring the purpose of importatio­n which shall be attached to the SPSIC applicatio­n in addition to the previous requiremen­ts which are proforma invoice, and GMO or non-GMO certificat­e.

Further, the actual product and consignmen­t must be shipped out within 20 days and must arrive not later than 35 days from the date of SPSIC issuance coming from ASEAN countries except Myanmar and 65 days for those coming from Myanmar and other countries.

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