Amid COVID crisis, Agusan corn farmers expected to enjoy bumper harvest

LOS ARCOS, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 2 June) – Amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, farmers here are expected a much better bumper harvest of their 10-hectare corn fields in an area here which have been consistent national awardee since 2017 for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) by the Department of Agriculture.

Los Arcos farmers proudly show their maize cobs ready for harvest in the next 10 days. MindaNews photo by CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN

The farmers tilling the 10-hectare model farms under the Corn Production Livelihood Program of the National Center of Electric Cooperative Consumers, Inc. (NCECCO) are expected to harvest at least 11 metric tons (MT) of corn grits per hectare of the hybrid pioneer corn variety in the next 10 days.

Lorenzo Mandahuyan, consultant of the program who is a retired municipal agricultural technician, said NCECCO program farmer-beneficiaries will gain an improved production since he had devoted more of his time teaching them better technological practices that will increase their yield since they started planting on February 11 this year.

The 10 farmer recipients were given financial assistance of P32,000 each from the NCECCO Prosperidad Chapter fund. Aside from being GAP trained farmers, they are also members of NCECCO, a nationwide aggrupation of electric cooperative consumers aimed at empowering their ranks.

Mandahuyan said for the first cropping, the farmers applied 80 percent organic and 20 percent inorganic fertilizers but will eventually go to 100 percent organic when the soil will fully recover its rich nutrients.

Arturo Maniquis, the buyer of the harvested corn grits, said each farmer could earn P143,000 for their bountiful harvest, way higher than what he projected – 6.5 MT per hectare equivalent to P84,000.

Mandahuyan said the high yield of the corn produce can be attributed to the increase in the number of corn ears that bloomed on each stalk of the plant. He estimated about 30 percent of the corn field yield at least three ears per stalk.

He said these are the same corn fields that won the national GAP award for three successive years as corn achiever of the year of which he also received a citation as their agricultural technician while he was still working at the municipal agriculture office in Prosperidad town.

But during those times, the average yield of each farmer reached only eight MT. Mandahuyan said the evaluators of the awarding body assessed the identified farms if they apply proper technological practices, like having complete farm gears in each farm house, including tools and first aid medicine kits and the making of compost pit for the farm wastes.

Prosperidad Vice Mayor Jesusisimo Ronquillo said the successful feat of the NCECCO farmer recipients will be expanded towards the 400 hectares of corn farm in the village of Los Arcos under the flagship program of the local government called Municipal Acceleration for Socio-Inclusive Program in Agriculture (MASIPAG).

Cora Cullantes, president of the board of directors of Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ASELCO) who spearheaded the NCECCO Corn Production Livelihood Program, said the achievement of Los Arcos farmers has encouraged them to introduce corn and legumes for intercropping to further boost the farmers’ livelihood.

Leah Fe Estillore, acting ASELCO general manager, said the Ako Padayon Pilipino Party-list, one of the five party-list in the energy sector in Congress, has approved a congressional funding through the joint resolution passed by the management and the board of directors for the construction of multi-purpose building in Los Arcos that the farmers can use.

Edgardo Masongsong, administrator of the National Electrification Administration, said NCECCO farmer recipients did not only benefit from their livelihood, but the most important gain they got is the knowledge on good farming practice imparted to them by the consultant. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)