4 north Luzon SUCs join hands to hike glutinous corn production

BATAC CITY — Four state universities and colleges inked a memorandum of agreement Tuesday to hike production of two glutinous corn varieties in the region.

The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) here will lead Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU) in Bacnotan, La Union; Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College (ISPSC) in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, and the Abra State Institute of Science and Technology (ASIST) in Lagangilang, Abra in increasing the production of MMSU Glut 1 and Lagkitan corn varieties.

One important component of the development project is an innovative extension delivery system to ensure the smooth and successful implementation of the technology on the farmers’ fields.

The MOA was signed Tuesday at the MMSU Hostel by MMSU President Shirley C. Agrupis, ISPSC President Francisco D. Lopez, and ASIST President Gregorio T. Turqueza Jr. and DMMMSU president Benjamin P. Sapitula.

The school heads have also agreed to enhance the production of glutinous white corn, increase the income of farmers, and strengthen food security in the Ilocos region within one cropping cycle. That is, from October this year to October 2019.

The MMSU Glut 1 and Lagkitan glutinous corn varieties are known to be high-yielding and possess excellent agronomic characteristics suited for food and for “chichacorn” production.

The project has an approved budget of PHP7.5 million from the Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). About PHP750,000 of this will be used to buy seed materials for aggregate areas in the three provinces under the Provincial Institutes of Agriculture and Fisheries (PIAFs), while the rest will be used for the project’s maintenance and operating expenses.

“We will involve 234 farmer-beneficiaries in this project,” Lopez said, adding that there will be 78 farmers per PIAF, and six local government units from these three provinces that will be assisting.

Each farmer-beneficiary shall allot at least 5,000 square meters of his farmland for the production of MMSU Glut 1 and the Lagkitan.

Agrupis said the MMSU, as lead agency, would take charge of the procurement of the planting materials, provide input assistance to farmers in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, and other related resources; extend technical advisory, consultancy, and other related services to the PIAFs; and monitor and evaluate the overall implementation of the project, among others.

On the other hand, the three other SUCs will take charge of the designation of project staff, including the hiring of required personnel, maintain close coordination with MMSU regarding the overall implementation of the project, spearhead the monitoring and evaluation of the project in their respective areas, and facilitate in the application of crop insurance of the farmer beneficiaries.

Corn is one of the major crops grown in the Ilocos region. There are two types of corn usually grown by farmers — the yellow and white or glutinous corn. The former is used mainly as raw material for animal feeds, while the latter is grown either as green corn, which is boiled or broiled and eaten as nutritious snack, or mainly used for “chichacorn” processing.

Records from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics show that the annual average volume of production for white corn in the Ilocos region is 51,094 tons from an aggregate area of 15,135 hectares.

Specifically, the average volume of corn production per province is 13.96 tons in Ilocos Norte from an aggregate area of 4,399 hectares; 10.99 tons in Ilocos Sur from 3,215 hectares; 9.41 tons in La Union from 2,627 hectares; and 16.74 tons in Pangasinan from its 4,894 hectares.  Reynaldo Andres/PNA-northboundasia.com