San Miguel Corporation (SMC), through its food unit San Miguel Foods, has purchased over 1.3 million metric tons of corn amounting to P23.9 billion from farmers nationwide since 2020 to date.
This is part of the company’s continuing initiative to source raw materials for its food products directly from local growers to help boost farm incomes, reduce the country’s dependence on imports, and help achieve food self-sufficiency.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke in 2020, SMC opened Better World Diliman, a ready-market for excess produce bought from farmers at better-than-farmgate prices, and sold to consumers and resellers for low prices.
The program, launched in 2020, is designed to benefit farmers from all over the country. Initially, it covers 13 provinces that include Batangas, Bicol, Bukidnon, Bulacan, Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Isabela, Ormoc, Pangasinan, Tarlac, and Zamboanga, with plans to expand by the end of the year.
“Through this program, we are assured of local corn supply for our food business while our local farmers are guaranteed a steady market and fair prices for their crops. Buying directly from them boosts their income and keeps their livelihood sustainable,” SMC president and CEO Ramon S. Ang said.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, San Miguel Foods purchased over 500,000 metric tons or 500 million kilos of corn to help farmers in various provinces affected by quarantine protocols and supply chain disruptions that saw their produce going to waste.
Isabela province farmer Marjorie Gante said that SMC’s local corn buying program has given her and her family a renewed sense of security. “Nang dahil po sa programa ng San Miguel, hindi na po kami natatakot mag-ani o maglabas ng aming produkto dahil sigurado po kaming may pagdadalhan ito. Hindi katulad dati na kung saan-saan pa kami naghahanap ng buyer at walang kasiguraduhan na maganda ang presyuhan at magiging maayos ang systema ng pagbayad sa amin.”
(“Because of San Miguel’s program, we’re no longer afraid to plant and harvest. We are assured that our products will go somewhere, unlike in the past when we would have to go to different places to find buyers, and even then, there would be no certainty as to whether prices would be good, or if we could get paid properly.”)
Meanwhile, Emity Durog, who has been farming for 20 years, says the program saves them time, effort and resources, as they no longer have to travel to different towns to sell their corn.
Violeta Develos, a generational farmer from South Cotabato, for her part, expressed gratitude to the company for coming up with such program and its consistent payment scheme.
“Maraming salamat po San Miguel dahil sa inyong programa, kaming mga magsasaka ng mais ay nakadama ng pagpapahalaga at wala pang kumpanya ang nakakagawa nito. Mabilis pa ang bayad nakukuha na namin nang direkta ang pera.”
(“Thank you, San Miguel. Because of your program, corn farmers feel valued, and no other company has done this for us. The payments are quick and we receive the money directly.”)
The direct corn buying program is just among several initiatives SMC continues to implement to support farmers and the agricultural sector nationwide.
SMC also locally sources other raw materials used by its businesses such as cassava, through its cassava assemblers’ program, and poultry, with the help of contract growers.
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke in 2020, SMC opened Better World Diliman, a ready-market for excess produce bought from farmers at better-than-farmgate prices, and sold to consumers and resellers for low prices. To date, Better World Diliman has rescued over 1.7 million kilograms of vegetables from farmers.
Additionally, in partnership with Gawad Kalinga’s School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED), SMC has provided over P2M worth of scholarships to underprivileged youth in Sumilao, Bukidnon.
The program enables farmers’ children to complete a TESDA-accredited agri-business course and serves as a model for rural development through education.