DA, BAR tackle possible corn R4D programs

Sustainable corn breeding program and comprehensive corn research for development (R4D) program were discussed during the meeting held at the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research on 26 January 2023.

Led by OIC-director Joell Lales, the meeting saw the presence of the Department of Agriculture's assistant secretary for Operations Arnel de Mesa, technical adviser to the assistant secretary for Operations Dr. Vivencio Mamaril, National Corn Program Office's technical adviser Dr. Candido Damo, and DA-Cagayan Valley officials led by regional technical director for research and regulations Dr. Rose Mary Aquino.

Also present during the meeting was Atty. Rhaegee Tamaña, chief of staff of Senator Cynthia Villar, who is the current chair of Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture.

One of the meeting's agenda was to improve the existing hybrid corn varieties in the country, thus setting the implementation of a comprehensive yellow corn breeding program.

The program shall contain the grain production cost, seed production cost of white, yellow, conventional, hybrid, and genetically-modified (GM) corn varieties.

It will also identify additional grain production areas, preferably for those where productivity is low. Corn Production Technology awareness and promotion component shall also be part of the program.

Once implemented, it will support farmers’ demand for location-specific and affordable varieties for animal feeds, and develop open-pollinated white corn varieties for food staple and food processing.

It will be implemented by DA-Cagayan Valley in partnership with DA-BAR and DA-Agricultural Training Institute.

"[The corn] seed development was brought up (during the senate hearing) because of the intention to improve the livestock, poultry, and dairy industry," Atty. Tamaña reiterated.

The meeting also discussed the short, medium, and long-term plans to be possibly taken to further improve the corn R4D industry in the country.

“We need to develop a comprehensive R4D program for [corn] varietal improvement, ‘yon ang request ko sana,” said asec. De Mesa.

For BAR's part, it will prioritize the funding of yellow OPV seed production of DA Cagayan Valley's production of breeder, foundation, registered, and certified seeds. (### Kathleen Mae B. Bulquerin)