BAGUIO CITY, Benguet – The provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, and Mountain Province are expected to benefit from the sustainable corn breeding program of the national government which is gearing to implement a production development plan for the Philippine corn industry this year benefiting the livestock, poultry, and dairy sectors, and ensure sustainable and sufficient food grains in the country.
The national program seeks to strengthen the development of yellow corn varieties with improved yield potential of 5-6 tons per hectare, and improved drought and disease tolerance, aside from these varieties having enriched protein content.
The Department of Agriculture Cordillera (DA-CAR) Corn Program identified 47,060 hectares of yellow corn cluster municipalities that will benefit from this program with the majority of these areas located in Ifugao (Alfonso Lista, Aguinaldo, Lamut and Lagawe), Kalinga (Tabuk City, Rizal, Pinukpuk and Tanudan), Apayao (Luna, Pudtol, Sta. Marcela, Kabugao, Flora and Conner), and Paracelis, Mountain Province.
The program also aims to ensure the supply of quality breeder seeds for certified seed production of seed growers, including the development of yellow corn varieties to support farmers’ demand for location-specific and affordable varieties for animal feeds.
The program will strengthen the development of yellow corn varieties with improved yield potential of 5-6 tons per hectare, and improved drought and disease tolerance. These varieties will also have enriched protein content.
The corn development initiative, to be undertaken through the Regional Field Office Cagayan Valley, in coordination with the National Corn Program, Bureau of Agricultural Research, and the Agricultural Training Institute, will also develop open-pollinated variety (OPV) white corn varieties for food staple and food processing.
As of 2020, the Cagayan Valley Research Center has developed 18 OPV corn varieties approved and accredited by the National Seed Industry Council. Through the implementation of this sustainable corn breeding program, at least two varieties are expected to be commercialized in two years.
The DA-CAR Corn program records no OPV development activities in the region as OPV white corn are not commonly produced but as of 2022,most of the OPV white corn was produced in Abra (majority are in Bangued, La Paz, Pidigan, Langiden, Bucay and Lagangilang) with a total area of 6,448 hectares.
A research project with the same goal was initiated in 2015 through the Corn Germplasm Utilization through Advanced Research & Development (CGUARD), a continuing research program funded by DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research implemented across all regional field offices with the University of the Philippines Los Banos-Institute for Plant Breeding.
Through this research, the Cordillera Corn Program was able to collect around 200 traditional white corn cultivars from Abra Ifugao, Benguet, Kalinga and Mt. Province with potential tolerance and resistance traits which may be good sources of materials for future breeding activities.
Cultivar is a plant variety that has been produced in selective breeding. Cultivars are usually designated in the style Taxus baccata ‘Variegata’.