GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/17 Nov) – Agriculture officials in South Cotabato are planning to trim down the province’s yellow corn production area by around 10,000 hectares in a bid to curb overproduction.
Reynaldo Legaste, South Cotabato agriculture officer, said Thursday the move was mainly aimed to avert the continuing yellow corn bumper harvests and oversupply in the province that have pushed down the crop’s buying prices to as low as P10 per kilo in the last two years.
Citing their records, he said the province’s yellow corn production area increased to around 50,000 hectares since 2009 from the previous average area of 42,000 hectares.
Legaste said the increase was due to the conversion of some upland farms and idle forestlands in the province into corn areas.
Based on the current production average of three tons per hectare, the annual yellow corn production within the province’s 10 towns and lone city presently stands at about 150,000 metric tons.
“Our volume of production in the last two years was way more than what we needed and it eventually pulled down the buying prices,” he said.
But Legaste said that after hovering around the P10-per-kilo level in the past months, the buying prices eased off to P12 per kilo as of last month.
He said the slight increase was due to the reported decline in yellow corn production in the upland areas of the province as a result of the erratic weather condition and the onslaught of various farm pests during the last several months.
“This only shows that if we cut down on yellow corn’s production volume, its buying prices will also increase. It’s a matter of applying the basic principles of supply and demand,” he said.
Legaste said they are currently reaching out with farmers in the upland corn production areas of the province to convince them to stop from further expanding and just focus on the planting of other viable alternative crops, especially high value fruits and vegetables.
He cited that the provincial government has been promoting the expansion of high-value vegetable production in the province as part of its ongoing food security initiatives.
Legaste said the local government has earlier laid down various support programs, among them the provision of farm inputs and establishment of market linkages, to facilitate the development of the province’s vegetable industry.
South Cotabato is presently considered as among the top producers of high-quality vegetables in the southern and central Mindanao area.
The province produces high-value vegetables such as asparagus, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, white potato, radish, carrots, among others.
It is also a top producer of “pinakbet-type” vegetables such as eggplant, squash, okra, ampalaya and string beans. Legaste said at least 30 percent of vegetables currently in South Cotabato are consumed while the rest goes to various markets in the region and the neighboring areas.
Mall chain Robinsons and several other supermarkets in the area retail vegetables produced in Barangay Miasong in Tupi, South Cotabato.
Aside from Tupi town, which has an estimated 300 hectares of established high altitude vegetable production area, the provincial government of South Cotabato has been also developing another 300 hectares of vegetable area in the upland village of Ned in Lake Sebu town. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)