Corn-based cluster farms pushed in Region 12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 Nov) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is pushing for the development of corn-based cluster farms in parts of Region 12 (Soccsksargen) to improve production and the income of local farmers.

Harvesting corn in North Cotabato. MindaNews file photo by ERWIN MASCARINAS

Agriculture Secretary William Dar disclosed the move on Wednesday as he vowed to work on the replication in the region of the newly launched agro-industrial development program of the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) in Lanao del Sur.

He led on Tuesday morning the grand launching of the project, which is under the Mindanao Special Economic Zone, in Amai Manabilang and Wao, Lanao del Sur.

Proponents Lanao Del Sur Corn Development Corporation and its partner, American company Asia Pacific Precision Agriculture Group (ASPAC AG), formally started the implementation of the project’s “mechanized and precision in agriculture technology.”

Dar said the initiative mainly focuses on the production of yellow corn and silage for Halal through modern methods.

He said some 2,000 hectares of corn farms in the area are targeted for the initial rollout out of SPDA’s 26,000 hectares of contiguous parcels of lands in both municipalities.

The corn harvests will be absorbed by feed company Lamsan, Inc., which has a plant in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao, while the Halal corn silage will be marketed to Arab countries, he said.

“It’s a good setup, ASPAC AG is funding everything. They bring their own capital, machinery, technology, and anything that has something to do with the project, including the construction of warehouses for production,” Dar said in a press conference here.

The official said they are hoping to also bring the same investor, ASPAC AG, to Soccsksargen, “which has also some good areas devoted to corn production.”

The region is among the biggest producers of yellow corn in the country at 1.2 million metric tons (MT) annually and a production area of over 400,000 hectares.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the region produced 342,811.98 MT, the second biggest in the country, with a harvested area of 120,950 hectares. The average production was at 2.83 MT per hectare.

Dar said Soccsksargen farmers could learn from the farm clustering and consolidation system adopted by the involved farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) in the Lanao del Sur project.

“Cluster farming for corn production will be a shoo-in as a major industry for Region 12,” he said.

The agency has been helping organize farmers into cooperatives or initially as associations to optimize the interventions and assistance that it provides and those from other government agencies.

This way, he said more support services would be directly rolled out to the FCAs and the local government units.

“We are turning them into cooperatives over time. So institutional development is necessary now so there will be more collective action,” Dar said. (MindaNews)