MANILA, Philippines – Cotabato Rep. Emmylou Talino-Mendoza warned the nation yesterday of a corn shortage unless it boosts production and research on the second staple food of a large number of Filipinos.
She said there is a growing demand for corn as food and as feed ingredient, and production is not sufficient to meet such demand.
“We must now quickly raise farm productivity levels. Otherwise, we risk more severe corn shortages in the years ahead,” she said.
She said local corn prices soared from P13.50 per kilo to as high as P25 per kilo early this year due to tight supply, which prompted the Department of Agriculture (DA) to allow up to 200,000 metric tons of imports for use by poultry and hog growers and feed millers.
She attributed inadequate corn output to farm inefficiency.
She said while experimental farms yield up to eight tons or 160 50-kilo bags per hectare, farmers are able to produce only three to 4.5 tons.
Talino-Mendoza proposed yesterday the creation of a Corn Research Institute (CRI) under the Department of Agriculture to ensure that the country would have sufficient corn supply.
“We should dedicate a whole new institute to draw up a comprehensive corn research program, build up production, improve the economic condition of farmers, and expand livelihood opportunities in the countryside,” she said.
She noted that while there are several research institutions for rice including the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna and Philippine Rice Research Institute in Nueva Ecija, there is none for corn.
“We need at least one comparable, high-technology research agency for corn,” she said.
She pointed out that next to rice, corn is the country’s second most important crop.
“It is the staple food of about 20 percent of our population and the main component of livestock and poultry feed. Over 2.5 million hectares of the country’s arable land is planted to corn, which supports more than 600,000 farm households nationwide,” she stressed.
She said more than 40 percent of the country’s annual corn production comes from Mindanao and North Cotabato is one of the largest corn-producing provinces in the island.
Under her proposal, the CRI would serve as hub of all corn research and development initiatives by the public and private sectors.
The proposed institute would carry out its own R & D activities, specifically in improving varieties, planting and fertilizer management, integrated pest control, farm mechanization, post-harvest engineering, farming systems, training and technology transfer, and social science and policy research.- Jess Diaz, Philippine Star