Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Efforts to raise corn output are paying off.
The total corn production of the country has increased by an average of 5.8 percent in the last seven years, an indication that efforts by the government and various industry stakeholders are paying off, according to Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap.
In a statement sent to the Sixth National Corn Congress held at the Albay Astrodome here from April 16 to April 18, Yap said that last year’s national corn production reached 6.93 million tons (MT) which surpassed the 2007, harvest by more than 200,000 tons despite high-fertilizer prices and the damage wrought by typhoons on corn plantations.
“For 2009, we are looking at anywhere between 7.2 MT to 7.4 MT—which is admittedly lower than our original target, because we are taking into account a host of factors including the expected decline in corn yields due to the adverse effect of changing weather patterns,” Yap said.
The livestock and poultry sector is plagued by high cost and unstable supply of feeds for chicken and swine, as well as the prevalence of diseases and high-marketing costs due to inadequate storage, transport and marketing facilities, Yap said.
At the core of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA's) corn sufficiency and security agenda is a stronger focus on the establishment of postharvest facilities, such as corn-cob dryers, shellers and farm mechanization support in the form of four-by-four tractors and shallow-tube wells.
“For these endeavors, we have earmarked P400 million or half of the National Corn Programs’ proposed 2009 financial programming of P817.7 million,” he said.
This allocation reflects a policy shift in favor of investing in infrastructure development and away from soft interventions in the form of subsidies for corn seeds and microbial inoculants, Yap said.
“Hence, we have tasked ourselves to realize the targets of raising the national harvest to 7.4 MT this year and further to 7.69 MT in 2010, and therefore improve sufficiency level from 94- percent en route to total sufficiency by 2010,” he said.
To attain those targets, Yap said farmers should realize an average yield of six tons per hectare in program areas, lower postharvest losses to 8 percent and boost farm income to at least P10,000 per hectare by 2010.
To achieve those goals, the DA will promote the use of organic and microbial fertilizers, expand farmlands devoted to corn by opening up new corn areas nationwide, and step up the nationwide inter-cropping program in coconut plantations, he said.
“We will also continue to encourage the use of hybrid corn technology among farmers across the country, reduce postharvest losses by promoting better harvest practices, continue to increase the production and consumption of white corn particularly among the traditional corn-eating population to ease the pressure on our rice requirements,” Yap said.
By Business Mirror
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