By PCCI CHAIRMAN WILLIAM S. CO
The Philippines’s corn production needs to double to meet local demand and ensure that it will be unaffected if there is a global supply imbalance.
With the current situation, the country is in a very vulnerable situation that when global corn supply disruption occurs, Filipinos’ food security will be at stake.
In the Philippines, where rice is the staple food, corn is mainly used to produce animal feeds for livestock and poultry.
Based on the latest 2022-2023 Corn Supply Outlook published by the National Corn Program, local feed corn sufficiency last year was only at about 57 percent.
The agriculture department expects local corn produce to reach 7.56 million metric tons (MT) this year, of which 6.35 million MT will go as a main component to animal feeds.
Recently, the Philippine Association of Feed Millers, Inc. (PAFMI) pushed for a comprehensive long term corn development program.
The group said the gap between imported and local corn needs to be reduced to single digit to “insulate the country from the adverse effects of any tight global supply of grains, which ultimately impinges on the nation’s food security and leaves the country vulnerable to global supply imbalances.”
PAFMI said that having a corn development program which encompasses the whole value chain from farm to market and industrial users will allow the country to reduce its dependence on imported corn.
I must say, though, that before farm, the program should also include research centers like the Philippine-Sino Center for Agricultural Technology (PhilSCAT) to develop better seeds and/or improved methods first to produce higher yields.
PhilSCAT has 10 hectares of land in Nueva Ecija for experimental farming of rice, which it has been focusing on since its establishment in 2000 by the Philippines and Chinese governments.
The Phil-Sino Center has been providing hybrid rice seeds to farmers and now on its Phase 4 of implementation. This initiative was sealed when I was the Agricultural attache’ to China.
It is about time that the Center expands its coverage for other crops especially corn now that the PAFMI has pointed out a looming threat to food security due to the scarcity of local corn.
PhilSCAT should start researching and developing how to increase corn production, too. There were previous studies on rice-corn rotation before but with the modern technology we have today, maybe the Center could further develop it and be able to provide its input and suggest better ways to increase corn production in the country.
PhilSCAT’s goals should not be limited to rice only after all its mission is to provide “quality products and services to modernize the Philippine agriculture and maximize benefits for various agricultural industry stakeholders.”
(Dr. William S. Co is chairman of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and director of the Agriculture and Fishery committee.)