DA 12 launches rice, corn info caravan

Zaldy Boloron, DA-12 rice and corn coordinator, said the campaign will begin on February 1 through a regional rice and corn information caravan that would be held at the University of Southern Mindanao campus in Kabacan, Cotabato province.


Boloron said the information caravan, which is seen as the biggest gathering of rice and corn sector stakeholders, is part of a nationwide program launched last Jan. 23 by the DA central office.


He said among those expected to grace the activity are officials of DA's attached agencies, local government officials, agriculture officials of local government units, feedmill and livestock sector representatives, corn cluster federation officers, rice and corn farmers and officials of the regional and provincial agriculture and fisheries councils.


"This campaign is primarily aimed at delivering various effective crop technologies down to the grassroots," Boloron said.


He said Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap earlier suggested the holding of such campaign after finding out that most of DA's crop productivity programs have not reached the countryside or grassroots farmers.


During the caravan, Boloron said they will present various rice and corn productivity programs of DA and crop technology showcases.


He said they will also organize site visitations on various crop technology showcases in the region.


Boloron said the rice productivity program focuses on the adoption of the hybrid rice technology, which may reportedly triple the yield of rice farmers.


In Region 12, he said the average rice yield per hectare of the traditional rice varieties only reach at least two metric tons but the hybrid rice varieties may produce up to six metric tons per hectare.


For corn, Boloron said DA will introduce more postharvest technologies to complement the high corn production rate of the region's four provinces and five cities.


Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato and the cities of Koronadal, General Santos, Cotabato, Tacurong and Kidapawan. 


In 2005, Region 12's corn harvest reached 938,200 metric tons, followed by Northern Mindanao at 938,200 metric tons, and Cagayan Valley at 769,500 metric tons.


Per province, Bukidnon topped corn production last year at 651,100 metric tons, Isabela at 513,700 metric tons, South Cotabato at 388,000 metric tons, Maguindanao at 373,400 metric tons, and North Cotabato at 294,000 metric tons.


Boloron said their department is initially planning to open additional corn postharvest processing and trading centers in the region, which was chosen as the project's pilot area last year.


A corn processing and trading facility was opened in Kabacan last year while another facility will open in Banga, South Cotabato in March this year.