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Agriculture

Monsanto bares 4 new Bt corn seed varieties

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Agriculture biotechnology firm Monsanto Philippines is introducing four new high-yielding and disease-resistant BT corn seed varieties in the next three years as it produces most of its seeds locally.

In a recent briefing, Monsanto executives said the company would  remodel its new facilities and would  engage more farmers in key production areas to cultivate BT corn seeds.

Between this year and 2017, Monsanto Philippines would  introduce to the market 6999S, a high-yielding variety most applicable for cultivation in Luzon that prevents the occurrence of vivipary, or premature sprouting of corn kernels; 86395S, a high-yielding variety suitable for cultivation in Mindanao and Visayas that is resistant to bacterial infection; as well as two other still unnamed high-yielding varieties suitable for cultivation in Luzon and Mindanao that promises even higher yield of seven to eight metric tons (MT) per hectare.  

Monsanto Philippines maintains four facilities in the Philippines: A refuge-in-a-bag (RIB) blending facility in Pulilan, Bulacan, two cold seed storage warehouses in Cauayan, Isabela, and a research and development facility in General Santos City.

“While we are not yet planning to put up more facilities,  we are investing in the  improvement of our existing facilities and are increasingly mechanizing our operations,” said Monsanto Philippines CEO Sandro Rissi.

Monsanto vice president for Asia Pacific Juan Farinati said the company has also  increased growing seeds locally instead of sourcing them from Argentina and other South American countries.

“Before we were sourcing most of our seeds from Argentina and other South American countries,  but now we are changing our operations and are growing and harvesting our seeds from local farmers,” he said.

Monsanto currently holds 30 percent of the market for BT corn in the country which comprises 415,000 smallholder farmers cultivating some 800,000 hectares of BT corn scattered mostly in Central Luzon, Isabela, Cotabato, Bukidnon, and Visayas.

In the Philippines, it is pitted against other biotechnology companies such as DuPont and Syngenta.

The company places the average domestic corn yield per hectare at 4.8 metric tons (MT). In contrast, Monsanto’s high-yielding varieties yield as much as 6.5 MT to seven MT per hectare.

Rissi said Mindanao – where bacterial rot disease in corn is prevalent – is shaping up to become  a lucrative business area because there are various opportunities for providing pest and disease management solutions. The company plans to  launch in the island  its integrated pest and disease management solution.

“Mindanao is a complex area for growing corn. Farmers in Mindanao are losing yield because of diseases,” he said.

He said the company has been encouraging farmers to apply new corn cultivation technologies to maximize the yield potential.

Rissi noted that an investment of P29,000 per hectare is needed for BT crops, higher than P36,000 per hectare for non-BT crops.  Yield is placed at an average of four MT per hectare for non-BT crops against a minimum of five MT per hectare. This, he said, translates to additional income of around P17,000 per hectare.

ASIA PACIFIC JUAN FARINATI

CENTRAL LUZON

CORN

HECTARE

MINDANAO

MONSANTO

MONSANTO PHILIPPINES

PER

SOUTH AMERICAN

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