Biotech role in Asean integration cited
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Agricultural biotechnology can help the country compete with lower-priced food commodities from other countries in the face of the integration of the ASEAN market next year.

This was pointed out by Dr. Emil Javier, former president of the University of the Philippines, who said the country faces serious competition in the rice and sugar sector from Thailand and Vietnam.

Javier, who was also former chancellor of UP Los Baños, said, however that “new-found vigor and competitiveness of the yellow corn feed sector” is the country’s hope in the intense competition following the ASEAN market integration.

Javier said the Philippines has achieved near-self sufficiency in yellow corn feed due to the large-scale adoption of corn varieties developed through agricultural biotechnology. Data showed that Filipino corn farmers planted some 800,000 hectares to this variety in 2013. This represents some 57 percent of the total area planted to corn nationwide.

Javier said farmers who use the biotech corn variety registered harvests of 5.4 to 5.8 tons per hectare, compared to the 3.0 tons per hectare harvested by users of traditional varieties. Farmers from Bukidnon and Isabela harvest as much as 7 to 8 tons per hectare using the biotech corn variety.

“We can compete in the world trade for feed corn,” Javier said.

He explained, however, that “the more realistic objective is to further increase supply of competitively priced quality feed corn to strengthen the competitiveness of our poultry and swine industries to bring down the cost of chicken and pork for domestic consumption and export”.

The biotechnology process raises the quality of corn by developing varieties that built-in resistance to insects and traditional pests. The resistance allows these varieties to produce more without the application of chemical pesticides.

BUKIDNON AND ISABELA CORN DR. EMIL JAVIER FEED JAVIER LOS BA THAILAND AND VIETNAM UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES VARIETIES
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