DA eyes greater corn output, sufficiency this year

The Department of Agriculture (DA) announced on Thursday it aimed to produce more corn this year and raise the country’s corn sufficiency rate to 58 percent.

In a virtual briefing, Milo delos Reyes, National Corn Program director, said the DA wanted corn output to reach 10.824 million metric tons (MT) in 2021, compared to last year’s 9.183 million MT.

For the first half, production may hit 5.972 million MT and about 8.068 million MT of the crop may be harvested for the rest of the year.

Of the targeted local corn production of 8.3 million MT for this year, 5.3 million MT will be yellow corn meant for feeds used in the swine and poultry industries, according to the official.

Once reached, the figure would be a 6-percent increase from the actual 5.049 million MT of yellow corn produced last year.

While the ongoing African swine fever (ASF) outbreak already reduced the number of hogs, which eat yellow corn as feeds, total corn supply remains stable, Reyes said, adding that the country needed to import more of the commodity to meet growing demand.

For this year, feed imports may reach 5.146 million MT, composed of 2.194 million MT of yellow corn and 2.952 million MT of feed wheat.

Reyes said corn farmers were making “just enough” profits, as farmgate prices ranged from P12.50 to P14.50 per kilo, with the production cost at about P10 per kilo.

Isabela province had the highest volume of yellow corn at 1.102 million MT. Bukidnon and Maguindanao provinces followed at 713,441 MT and 541,446 MT, respectively. Other top corn producers were the provinces of Cagayan, South Cotabato, Pangasinan, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Quirino and Camarines Sur.

Meanwhile, DA data suggested that the local corn sufficiency rate may reach 60 percent in the first semester of 2021 and drop to 56 percent in the second. If true, the average sufficiency rate would be 58 percent.

To do this, the department would intensify its programs for corn farmers. It would encourage them use more advanced farming technologies as part of reducing production costs and consequently improving their earnings and output.

The DA has allotted P1.5 billion budget for the corn sector this year. Reyes admitted that this was not enough and was hoping this would be raised to at least P3 billion in 2022, “so that we can really help our farmers in terms of postharvest facilities and farm equipment,” and ensure that we increase their income.