ANI to help DA convert IP lands into food production areas
Big agriculture company AgriNurture Inc. (ANI) will help the Philippine government turn ancestral lands into food production areas in desperate attempt to boost the country’s food supply amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A statement showed that “to help ensure food security during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond”, the DA has expressed its support to ANI’s proposal to boost corn production and introduce its “BigMa” rice-corn blend to Filipino consumers as a healthier alternative.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that aside from funding support, the DA will mobilize its Regional Field Offices and collaborate with the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) partner for the detailed planning and implementation of ANI’s proposal.
To be specific, ANI will initially tap 20,000 hectares of idle ancestral lands to convert them into corn lands.
Based on the Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) Rights Act, only the IPs are allowed to convert the land they occupy.
“Your proposal to produce and promote the ‘BigMa (Rice-Corn Blend)’ in the Visayas and Mindanao areas, and eventually in other Regions of the country, is very laudable. This is a timely initiative as a food resiliency intervention amid this COVID-19 period and beyond,” Dar told ANI.
Rice-corn blend has been a staple food in many areas, particularly Visayas and Mindanao. With the perennial rice shortage and as different rice exporting countries limit their shipments, rice blended with corn grits is a very good substitute.
“ANI is partnering with indigenous peoples to help them plant corn and make their idle labor and lands more productive,” ANI said.
Currently, the Philippines is producing 19 million metric tons of palay but only 8 million metric tons of corn annually.