Corn sector seeks separate policy body

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CORN farmers and other stakeholders called for the formation of a separate policy body for the sector at a national forum held last week in Koronodal City, South Cotabato.

The call was the outcome of the 12th National Corn Congress held November 14 to 16 and hosted by the Department of Agriculture, in partnerships with the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (PhilMaize) and other concerned agencies.

The event, themed “Sulong Maisan! Sapat na Pagkain ng Bayan,” called for “unified actions from the government and private sector for a more progressive and sustainable corn sector.”

“This is in line with the directives of the President and Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol to provide Filipino consumers available and affordable food,” Assistant Secretary Federico Laciste said.

PhilMaize President Roger Navarro said attendees at the congress agreed to file a resolution to create a Philippine Corn Development Authority, which would serve as a dedicated policy body for the corn.
Currently, the National Food Authority (NFA) is responsible for monitoring prices of corn.

Navarro explained, however, that the sector has been dissatisfied with the NFA’s performance, since corn is considered “the least important in the Food Security Chart.”

One of the key objectives of the new policy body would be to push for easing of restrictions on corn exports under various trade schemes such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Other key issues discussed in the congress were farm yield and cost, market linkages and post harvest technology.

“Our farmers need precise farming through technology provided by DA and trainings of extension workers from ATI (Agriculture Training Institute),” Navarro said.

Philippine corn output in 2015 increased by 3.5 percent year-on-year to 7.53 million metric tons, according to data from the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics.

As highlight of the congress, the 4th National Quality Corn Achievers’ Awards were held on November 16.

100 agricultural extension workers, 14 municipal/city corn coordinators, 19 municipal/city agriculturists, 6 provincial corn coordinators, and 5 provincial agriculturists were awarded with plaque and cash prizes for their invaluable contribution to the improvement of the local corn production. In addition, 24 individual corn farmers were also awarded for adopting the “Good Agricultural Practices” program of the DA in their farms.

As part of the recognition ceremony, the DA also granted P3 million for projects to five outstanding provinces and P1 million in project funding to 19 municipalities and cities who increased corn production in 2015.

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