The DA opens 75,000 hectares of new corn fields to hike production.
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) spent P203.6 million to open up 75,000 hectares of new corn fields, mostly in Mindanao, during the second and third quarters of this year under a “crash program” to beef up corn production by around 270,000 metric tons (MT).
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dennis Araullo, who also heads the DA’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) corn program, said the expansion in corn areas was undertaken to boost the chances of the Philippines to meet its target yield of 4.1 million tons of corn in the second semester.
“The planting season for this expansion areas covers the second and third quarters. Hence, we can expect to harvest an estimated yield of 270,000 MT for the last two quarters of the year,” said Araullo in a report to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
Around 52 percent of the new corn areas, or 39,000 hectares, are in Mindanao, while 26,700 hectares are in Luzon. The remaining new areas, or 9,300 hectares, are in the Visayas.
The DA said it is optimistic that corn production for 2008 will still breach the 7-million-ton level, but production will be 2-percent lower than the target of 7.4 million tons.
Araullo said the DA is carrying out a series of initiatives to increase corn production by more than 7 million tons.
These include promoting the use of organic and microbial fertilizers to enable corn farmers to slash fertilizer expenses by as much as 40 percent; facilitating the creation of additional corn areas; and hastening the construction of 45 additional postharvest processing and trading centers nationwide.
To encourage more farmers to plant yellow corn, agriculture officials said they are set to endorse to the National Food Authority (NFA) Council the increase of support price for the produce to P13 per kilogram.
Earlier, corn farmers have been clamoring for a “floor price” of P13 per kilo for yellow corn to help them cope with the spike in the prices of production inputs such as fertilizer.
For the January-to-June period, corn production grew by almost 20 percent to 3.292 million tons as against last year’s volume of 2.75 million tons.
The increase in corn production has prompted farmers to consider shipping out their produce to South Korea before the end of the year. At least 1,000 MT of corn may be shipped out to South Korea on a trial basis.
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