DA pilots 50 ha white corn farm
STAPLE FOOD. The model corn plantation in the island province of Masbate. DA5 PHOTO
CATAINGAN, Masbate --- A 50-hectare model farm of white corn stretching across seven barangays is found in this town of Masbate province. This is a pilot project of the DA Corn Program in Bicol to increase production and promote the consumption of white corn as staple food. Established in the last quarter of 2018, the corn crops are in tasseling stage as of this writing. The Corn Program provided the seeds (Var 6 at 1 bag per hectare), fertilizer, hauling truck and one unit 4-wheel drive tractor to the Estampar farmers association which manages the model farm while the Municipal Agriculture Office extended fertilizer assistance to over 20 farmer-cooperators. Municipal Agriculturist Wilfredo C. Melendres expressed his appreciation to the DA for the farm machineries provided to them in the past years. The DA has turned over two (2) units 4-wheel drive tractors which were granted to farmers’ associations such as the Estampar farmers association and Quezon Cassava Farmers Association, both based in Cataingan. Melendres disclosed that corn is a major agricultural commodity in Cataingan as it is staple food for the 50,327 population (2015 census). As of January 2019, there is a total of over 4,000 hectares of corn areas in Cataingan, out of the 17,773 hectares agricultural area. White corn is also the staple food in the towns found in the 3rd district of Masbate. Over 9,000 farmers are cultivating a total of 9,083 hectares of white corn areas in the whole province. Lorenzo Alvina, Regional Corn Program Coordinator said that Corn Model Farm is a priority project of the National Corn Program to facilitate the entry of rice-corn blend in the local market. He said the infusion of corn component into our staple food supply is seen to effectively cover whatever shortage we have in grains. DA Bicol has provided the farm inputs like fertilizer, soil ameliorants and bio-control agents for free. The counterpart of the farmer cooperators is the land and cost of land preparation. They will also return one bag of corn seeds for every bag of seed given to them, to be given to next in line beneficiaries. The model farm is also being monitored constantly as important data such as yield and farm practices are being collected. White corn is milled into corn grits and used as alternative for cooked rice, or mixed with rice at a ratio of 70 % rice and 30% corn. This rice-corn blend is now being sold in some malls nationwide. Consumption of white corn is also being promoted because of its health benefits. It is rich in protein, mineral, carbohydrates and antioxidants that fight cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is also rich in thiamine of Vitamin B1 that helps the brain to function well. It is high in fiber that aids digestion, making you feel full for a long time, hence great for those on diet. It is also suitable for diabetics as white corn contains less sugar than rice. Pregnant women should also learn to eat white corn grits as it contains folate which helps form the cells of the fetus. The different kinds of minerals like manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc that are also contained in white corn aids in fast recovery of the body after work out and keep the body strong.