Philippines Dept. of Agriculture expecting record corn harvest of 8.2 million tonnes in 2013, up 10.8% from 2012 despite damage caused by recent typhoons

, October 22, 2013 () – The Department of Agriculture is expecting another record harvest of corn this year, estimated at 8.2 million metric tons (MMT), in spite of the damaged wrought by recent typhoons.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the 2013 corn harvest would be 10.8 per cent (%) more than last year's output of 7.4 MMT, and 28% more than in 2010.

He 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 during the Aquino Administration.

Likewise, the country's corn sufficiency level has improved, from 83% in 2010 to 98% in 2012, and we expect to hit 105% sufficiency by year-end, said the DA chief at a media briefing, October 22, 2013, as a prelude to the 9th Philippine National Corn Congress and 2013 National Quality Corn Achievers Awards, from October 23 to 25, in Tagaytay City.

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, said Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna, who serves as the DA national corn program coordinator.

PhilMaize president Roger Navarro said they are awaiting the approval of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council on their 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 has 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. A/Sec de Luna said the additional production would come from identified 300,000 hectares of coconut areas that could be intercropped with corn. He said the DA national corn program is partnering with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to implement said corn 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.

Further, corn imports have been reduced by one-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% in 2012, from 15% in 2011. The DA targets to reduce it further to 9% by 2014, said A/Sec de Luna.

For these milestones, Secretary Alcala said the DA extends its gratitude to and honors the country's corn farmers, the private sector like PhilMaize and National Corn Board, local government officials, provincial, city and municipal agriculturists and extension workers, and other industry stakeholders.

Finally, he said the DA will not waver in its commitment to bring prosperity to corn farmers and the industry, in general, by:

Continuously investing in the establishment of postharvest facilities such as corn-in-a-cob dryers, and processing and trading centers;

Teaching more farmers Good Agricultural Practices or GAP to make them at par with, if not better than, their counterparts in major corn-producing countries; and

Sustaining efforts to provide farmers and traders on precise market price information, and link farmers directly to markets.

(Philippine Investor Relation Office: 22 October 2013)

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