More than 1.16 million Filipino farmers depend on corn production as their main source of livelihood.

This was according to the presentation of Department of Agriculture-National Corn Program (DA-NCP) Director U-Nichols Manalo during the National Banner Program Committee (NBPC) on Corn’s online special meeting on February 10, 2023.

Dir. Manalo emphasized the importance of corn in the livestock and poultry industries as well as in the Filipino diet. Corn accounts for 50-55% of livestock mixed feeds and 50-65% of poultry mixed feeds. Meanwhile, 20% of Filipinos eat white corn grits with an annual per capita consumption of 14.7 kilograms.

To further improve the corn industry, the NBPC on Corn recommended for the DA-NCP to allocate funds for the development of the corn silage production industry and the review of the rice-corn blend project implementation.

The Committee also emphasized that seed quality is essential in boosting overall corn production. Given this, the body passed a policy resolution recommending the Department of Budget and Management and the DA to review the procedures on the procurement of corn seeds to ensure that only high-germinating seeds will be purchased and distributed to farmers. The Body also saw the need to review the national policies on the patent exclusivity of corn seed production, in consultation with concerned industry stakeholders.

Dr. Artemio Salazar from Philippine Maize Federation, Inc. (PhilMaize) also suggested assessing the national policies to prioritize and support the local seed producers. This was after he informed the body that there is a demand from seed producers to allow the reproduction and commercialization of seeds with specific traits needed by the farmers. He shared that seed reproduction is currently limited and mostly controlled by multinational companies.

Dir. Manalo agreed that there is a need for amendment and assured the Committee that they will coordinate with the Bureau of Plant Industry-National Seed Industry Council and the DA- Policy Research Service to come up with a position for the possible policy amendments.

On the other hand, PhilMaize President and Interim NBPC on Corn Chairperson Engr. Roger Navarro recommended the use of satellite remote sensing to help improve the accuracy and overall gathering of data on the corn industry.

The creation of a separate Committee for Corn, which involves cassava and other grains industry stakeholders, acknowledges the commodity as an emerging industry with its own needs and priorities that shall have a proper venue to tackle and address issues for production sustainability. 

The establishment of the NBPC on Corn was put into motion through the adoption of the NBPC on Poultry, Livestock, and Corn Resolution No. 6 in 2022. | JCL