Dir. Antonio Gerundio, Head of the National Corn Program Secretariat, reports updates on National Corn Program implementation

Coron, Palawan. Around 120 DA regional staff from all over the country convened for the 2015 Review and Planning Workshop for Agri-Pinoy Corn Program last May 25 to 28, 2015. Coron Municipal Agriculturist Gerry Gevela graciously welcomed the participants in behalf of the Municipal Mayor. Gevela said that although the town of Coron is not a corn-producing-area, its potential is still waiting to be discovered. He shared his motto of “Hangga’t hindi sinusubukan, hindi malalaman,” to participating Regional Corn Coordinators, Cassava Focal Persons, Report Officers, and the members of the National Corn Program Secretariat. OICRTD for Operations, Renato Manantan, likewise welcomed the participants in behalf of Dir. Cipriano Santiago.

 Some of the topics discussed that affects the corn and cassava industry were discussed. Dr. Artemio Salazar presented the germplasm project. The project aims to ensure that corn varieties are preserved and maintained for breeding purposes. Dr. Erlinda Vasquez, an Entomologist/Plant Pathologist of PhilRootcrops, on the other hand, discussed her research updates on the disease affecting cassava in various hotspot of the regions known as the Witches’ Broom Disease. Immediate control measures for the disease were discoursed and immediate actions that need to be done were suggested by the participants. Among the suggestions include strict quarantine rules for the moratorium of movement of cassava planting materials from hotspot regions, and to request the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) to classify Streptomycin as an agricultural drug. Updates from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, and PhilMaize were also discussed.

Asec. Ed De Luna urges the RCCs of different regions into pursuing competitiveness during the 2015 Review and Planning Workshop.

 Edilberto De Luna, Assistant Secretary for Field Operations, in his message, urged RCCs and report officers of the various Regional Offices to have projects for 2015 ready and implemented by third quarter of the year. “Pag mabagal ang spending mabagal ang serbisyo,” he stressed. He advised to call the attention of suppliers for non-functioning purchases and to fasttrack the projects not only for the corn program, but also for the other programs.

 Asec. de Luna commended the Corn Program for attaining the highest production rate of 5.2M MT and Cassava by 9M MT. “We have to sustain our 103% sufficiency in corn but we can understand that El Niño has affected crop production, that is why we need to catch up for the 3rd and 4th quarters for whatever was not achieved in the 2nd quarter.” He explained the need for timely and correct submission of reports. “Data have to be submitted for us to come up with plans so that we could at least be close to achieving our target of 9M MT.” He remains optimistic that the group can perform the catch-up plans. “Nagawa na natin dati, magagawa ulit natin,” he said.

The Assistant Secretary enjoined everyone to pursue competitiveness of the sector for the ASEAN Economic Integration. “We have to be competitive and resilient. He added that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) measure the department’s productivity by the output that we have achieved in terms of number of tractors and dryers. For this year, they may measure us in terms of outcome and impact, by the level of production and how our interventions contribute to the income, production cost and improvement of our clienteles’ lives.” On issue of the spread of Witches’ Broom Disease in cassava, De Luna had instructed the staff to work with the TWG and Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) in discussing the matter and to integrate and synchronize all efforts for the control measures of the disease.

Laying out plans, De Luna said that 2016 will be a different year. Procurement will have to be done in advance, machineries are considered as capital outlay, and the challenge of RSBSA is expected. Corn Crop Manager will also be launched to give timely advice to farmers and Corn Quality Award will proceed, and so the search must go on.

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