ILAGAN CITY: The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the province of Isabela recently spearheaded the first training for farmers here on corn silage production and processing to improve their income from corn farming.

Maria Sofia Narag, DTI Isabela provincial director, said the activity was the DTI's maiden attempt to pique corn farmers' interest in corn silage as an alternative source of income.

"The activity is also an option for Ilagan corn farmers during impending calamities and natural disasters," Narag added.

Some 27 farmer-members of Asosasyon ng Mga Ama (AMA)-Siyudad ng Ilagan participated in the Business Opportunity Seminar and Skills Training in Corn Silage Production and Processing in collaboration with the Ilagan city government and the Department of Agriculture-Cagayan Valley Research Center (DA-CVRC).

Narag said DTI Region 2 Director Leah Pulido Ocampo's vision is to help local corn farmers in the Cagayan Valley region by offering an alternative livelihood through corn silage processing and production.

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"This is a potential option given the shift in climate conditions, which puts corn producers' crops in danger," she said

Zenaida Quinto, DTI Business Development Division officer in charge, said there is a vast business and income opportunities in corn silage processing showing data analysis that was supported by the Department of Agriculture's study on the feasibility of corn silage production in Isabela.

She also cited the high demand for corn silage in the province, owing to the growing number of cattle ranches which would be the principal market for the silage, not to mention the existing high demand in the worldwide market.

Quinto said the project plan included the provision of farming equipment from the DA and the city government of Ilagan.

During the training, Dr. Jacqueline Gumiran, Agricultural Center chief, and Jean Lizada, Isabela Experiment Station agriculturist, tackled the know-how on plant care and storage of corn silage.

They said there is a necessity of having good storage methods that enhance corn silage fermentation, and introduced the best methods identified through months of study on the most viable timing, variety, and technique in corn silage production.

Farmers have also undergone hands-on skills training on corn silage processing and packaging and witnessed an actual demonstration of the process of producing excellent quality silage utilizing mechanical equipment and proper storage materials.

Ma. Corazon Mamuri, Senior Trade-Industry Development specialist, also highlighted the DTI's Ways Forward in bolstering the corn silage industry in Isabela through tight coordination and engagement with agencies, local government units and private partners.

Engr. Rolando Pedro, DA-CVRC manager, noted the DTI and DA's significant leap in resolving the long-standing difficulty among corn farmers in recovering their losses in case of a calamity.

Pedro also reaffirmed the DA's strong support for the development of the corn silage industry, which, if successful, would benefit not just Isabela corn producers but other farmers in the region where corn is a key crop.

He also advised the members of AMA-Ilagan to, as early as now, submit a formal resolution requesting the DA to provide them with a complete harvester-shredder equipment which the participants were delighted about.

The DTI Region 2 said it will expand its initial corn silage initiatives by conducting a second wave of skills training among other corn farmers in this city as well as organic fertilizer production training, all of which are critical in preparing Isabela farmers for the great journey ahead in corn silage production.