Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte has underscored the need for the country to establish  a corn research institute that would focus on increasing the productivity and quality of the country’s most important food next to rice. 

Under House Bill (HB) No. 7818, the proposed Philippine Corn Research Institute (PhilCorn),  is tasked to modernize the corn industry and improve the livelihood and household income of small corn growers, Villafuerte said. 

“Around 600,000 households depend on it as a primary source of income.”

The bill also seeks  to empower corn farmers with tools of science and technology to help them cope with the perennial problems of low yields, droughts and floods, land degradation, and global warming plus other risks arising from environmental and climate changes, he added. 

“Around 600,000 households depend on it as a primary source of income. We should be able to increase the productivity and quality of our corn produce by establishing the Philippine Corn Research Institute,”  Villafuerte said.

PhilCorn shall be attached to the Department of Agriculture (DA), the bill states. 

“HB 7818 seeks to increase the productivity and quality of our corn through modern farm planting practices, harvesting, processing and packaging techniques for the domestic and global markets,”  Villafuerte said.

Camarines Sur recorded a 28-percent  increase in corn production from 75,505 metric tons (MT) in the first semester of 2019 to this year’s 96,717 MT from total harvest area of 23,845 hectares (ha) despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to DA data. 

A former Camarines Sur governor, Villafuerte said his bill will further, increase corn harvests as PhilCorn will also equip our farmers with the means “to combat climate change by enhancing their capability to continuously develop cutting-edge technology and agricultural innovations.” 

The  Philippines produced around 7,772,000 MT of corn in 2018.

Villafuerte has proposed initial funding of P400 million for PhilCorn and that its principal office be based at the Isabela State University or at any other suitable site as the institute’s Board of Trustees may decide.  

PhilCorn’s  Board of Trustees is mandated under the bill to  exercise all the corporate functions and powers of the institute. 

The  Philippines produced around 7,772,000 MT of corn in 2018, according to Villafuerte. 

Corn serves as the staple food of 20 percent of the population and a component of up to 75 percent of formulated feeds for livestock, poultry and aquaculture fishery.

Last May, Villafuerte pushed for  a “re-prioritization” of the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA), with a hefty part of the annual budget going not only to infrastructure development and social services but also to agricultural development—“with the long-term goal of attaining sufficiency in rice and other basic foodstuffs in the post-pandemic scenario.”

“Alongside ‘Build, Build, Build,’ the Duterte administration needs to likewise put ‘Plant, Plant, Plant’ on the front burner to best prepare the country for the ‘new normal’ once the pandemic   has been contained,” Villafuerte has said. 

On Villafuerte’s watch as governor from 2004 to 2013, Camarines Sur posted the highest production growth spike as it rose from being the No. 12 to the No. 6 rice-producing province in the country.


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