Corn production dips 21% in C. Mindanao

BAS regional chief Felixberto Pacate said that yellow and white corns harvested from July to September last year reached 346,754 metric tons as against 441,099 MT during the same period in 2005.

Pacate, in his paper dubbed “Regional Economic Situationer-Agricultural Data,” said the dry spell in 2005 was the main culprit as farmers moved the cropping season.

The province of South Cotabato was the region’s top corn producer during the period with at least 152,595 MT, followed by North Cotabato at 101,056 MT, Sultan Kudarat at 53,107 MT and Sarangani at 38,101 MT.

But Bacate noted that the decrease was also partly due to the decrease in areas planted to corn. In the third quarter of 2005, there were 161,991 hectares of such farm lands. A year after, the area went down to 134,544 hectares.

The declining corn production came amid efforts of the national government to improve post-harvest facilities in the region.

For instance, the country’s first ever modern post-harvest facility for corn, worth P23 million, was inaugurated last August in Kabacan, North Cotabato. It was designed to curb aflatoxin contents which, at very high levels, could result in biological disorders or even death, both on human and animals.

Researchers at the Bureau of Postharvest Research and Extension said that aflatoxin is caused by the buildup of molds in corn due to improper or poor post harvest facilities.

The government wants to reduce aflatoxin level in corn to 20 parts per billion.

Yet another modern post harvest facility is being constructed in Banga, South Cotabato.

Zaldy Boloron, regional corn coordinator of the Masaganang Ginintuang Ani program of the Department of Agriculture, said they are targeting to launch the facility worth at least P20 million next month.

Boloron said that two more modern corn post-harvest facilities will be built, one in Malungon in Sarangani, and the other in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat.

The establishment of the modern post-harvest facilities is spearheaded by the state-owned National Agribusiness Corp. under the DA.