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PIA Press Release

Corn harvests expected at 4.018-M MT in 2nd semester despite drought

Manila (18 September) -- The Philippines' total corn production is expected to hit 4.018 million metric tons (MT) in the second half of 2007 even assuming a worst-case scenario of the current dry spell in Luzon lasting until December this year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said yesterday.

Assistant Secretary and Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) National Corn Program Director Dennis Araullo said that despite the dry spell affecting Northern and Central Luzon and Bicol, the DA is keeping its 2nd semester target because new areas in Visayas and Mindanao will be opened up and Quick Turnaround planting will be implemented up to September this year.

Corn production in the July to December period last year reached 3.478 million MT, of which 1,985 million MT were yellow corn and 1.492 MT were white corn.

For the same period this year, Araullo said yellow corn production is projected to reach 2,493 million MT and white corn, 1,525 million MT, or a total of 4.018 million MT, representing a 15.5% year-on-year increase.

Following the drought that has struck the rice- and corn-producing areas of Luzon, DA Secretary Arthur Yap has expressed "cautious optimism" on the growth of the agriculture sector this year, with the palay sector estimated to grow 1.5% to 2% and corn, 2.5% to 3%, for the entire year in the event of a protracted dry spell till yearend.

According to estimates by the GMA-Corn Program, the Cagayan Valley, one of the regions hit by the drought, is expected to deliver 703,617 MT or 17.5% of the corn supply in the second semester. Non-drought areas in Central Mindanao will harvest 827,078 MT; Northern Mindanao will supply 705,295 MT; the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 528,047 MT; the Davao Region, 273,565 MT; and the entire Visayas, 395,579 MT.

The GMA-Corn Program has distributed 32,657 bags of hybrid corn seeds as of June this year and released P56 million for this purpose.

It has also released a total of P26.21 million to install 125 shallow tube wells in corn-producing areas nationwide; distributed four mechanical corn dryers and 58 mechanical corn shellers, 42 units of 4 x 4 tractors, and constructed 28 multi-purpose drying pavements in the first six months of 2007.

Araullo said, DA has also distributed a total of 114,322 seed bags to corn farmers as of June this year under the GMA-Corn Program's Production Enhancement Project.

Besides these accomplishments, two postharvest processing and trading centers designed to ensure the continuous supply of quality corn and provide farmers a venue for marketing their grains are already operational in the provinces of South and North Cotabato, two of the areas in Mindanao where the DA is carrying out a quick-turnaround program to offset losses in corn production that would be incurred as a result of the Luzon dry spell.

The National Agribusiness Corp. (NABCOR), a government-owned and controlled firm under the direct supervision of the Department, has also opened another Corn Post Harvest Processing and Trading Center (PHPTC) in Sarangani.

The Nabcor, in tandem with local government units (LGUs), is also set to build PHPTCs in the provinces of Pangasinan, Bukidnon and Ifugao.

The funding strategy employed for the construction of PHPTCs distributes the total project cost between NABCOR, which absorbs 75%, and its joint venture partners, which shoulder the 25% balance.

Nabcor is currently operating, in partnership with LGUs, the PHPTCs in Barangay Osias in Kabacan, North Cotabato and in Barangay Reyes in Banga, South Cotabato.

Under Nabcor's management, PHPTCs are operated as one-stop venues for the provision of technical, institutional development and market-related infrastructure assistance for the continuous supply of quality corn to industry players. (PIA) [top]

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