Gov’t readies privatization of NFC

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    The Department of Agriculture (DA) is readying the privatization of Northern Foods Corp. (NFC), a government-owned tomato processing company based in Ilocos Norte.

    The DA has extended P65 million in financial and marketing help to NFC pay its arrears to farmers who had sold tomatoes during previous harvest seasons.

    A government-owned and controlled corporation, NFC was established in 1984 as a subsidiary of the Livelihood Corp. and was transferred to the DA in 2000.

    NFC processes into paste fresh ripe tomatoes sourced from 3,000 farmers, in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur with a processing capacity of 500 metric tons (MT) of tomatoes per day.

    It supplies tomato paste to food chains, fish canners and tomato sauce and catsup manufacturers in the country, comprising 13 percent of the country’s 30,000-MT yearly consumption.

    Dar said NFC is in discussion with a local group for the proposed rehabilitation and upgrade of the processing plant.

    Data from Philippine Statistics Authority showed Ilocos Region produced a total of 28,250 MT of tomatoes last year, representing more than 38 percent of the country’s total production.

    The DA meanwhile also announced Jelfarm Fresh Produce Enterprise has made an initial shipment of two tons of okra to Japan.

    Jelfarm will be shipping about five tons daily as the harvest season begins and as much as 13 to 15 tons daily during the peak season.

    About 300 farmers 14 barangays in Tarlac are producing the exportgrade okra products.

    The DA said at present, okra farmers can harvest 500 kilograms up to one ton of okra per hectare for 75 days straight and earn a net income of P80,000 to P120,000.

    The DA said Jelfarm will be expanding up to a thousand hectares to beef up the production of export-quality okra.

    Jelfarm is a trader of exportgrade okra that is headquartered in Clark, Pampanga.

    The company sources its supply which must be strictly free from disease, pests, damage and mechanical injury from a network of independent farmers, contract growers and cooperatives that are mainly in Tarlac.