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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

DA key officials admonished on PH corn imports

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Sen. Cynthia Villar rebuked officials of the Department of Agriculture-National  Corn Program (DA-NCP) over the importation of corn seedlings. Villar is the chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food committee.

During yesterday’s hearing of the Yellow Corn Industry Development Act of 2022 (Senate Bill No. 120), Villar cited Philippine Institute Development Studies (PIDS) data showing that 80 percent of the country’s corn seedlings are imported.

In the hearing, she confronted DA-NCP Director Nicolas Manalo for allowing corn seedlings to be imported, saying “somebody could be making money from this importation.”\

If the country develops its own corn seedlings, Villar believes local farmers would prefer them since they are “cheaper.” Villar also said local seeds are more adaptable to the country’s climate.

Manalo however answered that imported corn seedlings are more resistant to pests. But Villar further questioned Manalo on why they did not do something about it.

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Manalo told the Senate panel that he has been in his post as Program Director for only two months, but Villar did not buy the reasoning and pressed the official on his appointment in his current position and asked for Manalo’s background.

Manalo said he is also from another office of the DA. The senator reiterated that the DA’s job is to develop good corn seeds for local farmers.

The senator also quizzed DA Technical Consultant Candido Damo on why they focussed on white corn and not yellow corn. He simply replied that white corn is for food.

Vivencio Mamaril, former Director of the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, said there were several local corn breeders before, but now, there are only a few.

He said the DA has no breeding program because it does not have a research

institute for corn. He said the research for corn is being done by state universities and

colleges such as the University of the Philippines, Los Banos.

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