• Corn farmers bat for exports

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    Local corn growers have expressed confidence that they could tap the export market over the medium term and be very competitive in the Asean economic community, after the issuance of government guidelines on biotechnology.

    Roger Navarro, president of the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (Philmaize), said that corn producers could be assured of better yields and be allowed to export at the proper time.

    “With the new JDC (joint department circular) for biotechnology, local corn farmers have better chances of tapping the export market because we will continue reaping higher yields with Bt corn,” Navarro said in an interview.

    In crop year 2014-2015, the country’s corn production was recorded at 7.553 million metric tons (MMT), which is slightly lower than the 7.671 MMT recorded the previous crop year, according to the USDA data.

    The decline in corn yields, Navarro said, can be attributed to the El Niño dry spell as some areas especially in Northern Mindanao had been badly hit by the drought.

    Northern Mindanao is the second biggest corn-producing region next to Luzon’s Region 2, while Region 12 is the third most productive area.

    The Philippine corn producing industry covers 2.5 million hectares with an overall average yield of 4 MT per hectare. The direct beneficiaries are the 11 million Filipino farmers, farm workers and those in the food manufacturing.

    The Philippines produces mostly yellow corn. 70 percent goes to feed mills, while the remaining 30 percent is used for food products such as oil and starch, as well as other products.

    The Department of Agriculture is positioning corn to be one of its major exports to the Southeast Asian region within the next three years.

    Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala earlier said the government was investing heavily in infrastructure and more post-harvest facilities to prepare the corn industry for trade liberalization.

    Manila is a signatory to the Asean Free Trade Agreement, which took full effect in 2015. The agreement brings down to zero the duties on most products traded between Asean countries.

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