Domestic production of corn to hit record

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The Philippines expects another record harvest of corn this year despite the damage caused by the recent typhoons.

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In a press conference on Tuesday, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the country’s corn production is expected to reach 8.2 million metric tons (MMT) in 2013, or 10.8 percent higher compared to last year’s 7.4 million MT, and 28 percent more than the 2010 harvest.

Alcala said the annual production of corn—the country’s second most important crop next to rice, and serves as main staple of 14 million Filipinos—has been steadily increasing over the past three years.

“Likewise, the country’s corn sufficiency level has improved, from 83 percent in 2010 to 98 percent in 2012, and we expect to hit 105 percent sufficiency by yearend,” Alcala said.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna, who serves as the DA National Corn Program coordinator, said with the estimated record harvest, the country is expecting a surplus of 150,000 MT to 200,000 MT.

“Of which the private sector, particularly the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. [PhilMaize] is planning to export 100,000 MT,” de Luna added.

PhilMaize President Roger Navarro said the organization is awaiting the approval of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council on its application to export quality corn to interested foreign buyers.

Early this year, the country exported its first-ever shipment of 24 MT of corn silage as cattle feed to South Korea. As of August, total shipment reached 280 MT, which forms part of the 15,000 MT of corn feed and grains worth P75 million to be shipped by December 2013.

For 2014, the DA National Corn Program, with a proposed budget of P1.797 billion, targets to produce at least 8.4 MMT.

De Luna said the additional production would come from identified 300,000 hectares of coconut areas that could be intercropped with corn. He said that the DA National Corn Program is partnering with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to implement the intercropping program.

More and more Filipinos have also been consuming white corn grits (or bigas-mais), as shown by increase in the per capita of 10.26 kilograms (kg) in 2012, from 7 kg in 2009.

Furthermore, corn imports have been reduced by half, from an average of 171,000 MT yearly from 2001 to 2009, to only 91,000 MT from 2010 to 2012.

As a result of more investments in drying and processing facilities, corn postharvest losses were reduced to 12.9 percent in 2012, from 15 percent in 2011. The agriculture department targets to reduce it further to 9 percent by 2014, de Luna said.

The announcement of the milestones was a prelude to the 9th Philippine National Corn Congress and 2013 National Quality Corn Achievers Awards, from October 23 to 25, in Tagaytay City.

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