The Department of Agriculture recognized outstanding provinces, cities and municipalities, provincial and municipal/city corn coordinators, provincial and municipal/city agriculturists, and agricultural extension workers (AEWs) during the 2nd Quality Corn Achievers Awards, on November 20, 2014.

The awarding ceremony was held in conjunction with the three-day 10th Philippine National Corn Congress (November 19-21) held in Limketkai Center, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental.

Pangasinan, Isabela, Occidental Mindoro, Agusan del Norte, and Agusan del Sur were declared as outstanding provinces and received PhP3 million-project grants for corn related endeavors.

Other awardees include twenty five outstanding cities/municipalities awarded PhP1M in project grant (upon submission of project proposals); 3 provincial agriculturists – PhP 40,000; 5 provincial corn coordinators – PhP 30,000; 20 municipal/city agriculturists – PhP 30,000; 18 municipal/city corn coordinators – PhP 25,000; and 100 AEWs – P 20,000.

Outstanding regional corn teams (DA-RFU 4B – MIMAROPA, DA-RFU 1 – Ilocos, DA RFU 2 – Cagayan Valley, and RFU 13- CARAGA) were likewise given recognition for their efforts in increased corn quality and production while a special award was given to Mr. Eulogio Cabiles of San Manuel, Tarlac for being the First GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certified Corn Farm in the country.

“Aside from volume, quality is among the top criteria in selecting the winning provinces. Counterpart investments of the local government units in pursuing corn-related projects in their respective areas are also taken into consideration,” Assistant Secretary and National Corn program Coordinator Edilberto de Luna said.

The awards encourage the winning LGUs to further improve the performance of the corn sector in their respective areas. The incentives received will help the awardees boost efficiency and quality of corn produced, he added.

In preparation for the upcoming ASEAN integration in 2015, DA under the leadership of Sec. Proceso J. Alcala, will continue to prioritize post harvest facilities and mechanization to make the corn industry in the country competitive in terms of cost.

“Manual labor is quite costly and post harvest losses are high due to inadequate facilities such as dryers. If the yield increase by 0.3 MT/ha, cost will dramatically decrease,” de Luna said.

The Assistant Secretary encourages the private sector to shift into value addition, instead of the traditional wide use of corn as human food and animal feed stressing that the country’s poultry and livestock sectors will not survive without yellow corn, which comprise 40 to 50% of the feed requirements for poultry layers and 40% of hog feed ingredient.

In addition, corn production will be increased specially white corn which is widely eaten in the Visayas and Mindanao regions. Research on high yielding corn varieties is in progress so the country can withstand the changes brought about by AEC.

Undersecretary for Operations Emers on U. Palad said Sec. Alcala defined international competitiveness as the highest form of competitiveness and if the country’s products are accepted in the global market, then we can say that we are internationally competitive.

DA’s Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (DA-BAFS) has completed crafting product standards and GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) for agricultural commodities including corn, Palad said.

Earlier this year the Philippines exported corn silage to South Korea, a clear indication that the quality of Philippine corn is at par with internationally established product standards, hence globally acceptable. He also said that the South Korean companies have placed additional orders for corn silage.

Kayang kaya ng Pilipinas makipaglaban sa larangan ng agrikultura lalo na sa mais,” said Palad. (Marlo Asis, DA-AFID)