Farmers of Bato town of Camarines Sur province cluster their farms into a vast area for corn plantation as the municipality gears toward top production of the crop in the entire Bicol region.
The DA’s regional field unit in Pili, Camarines Sur, recently held a two-day consultation, planning workshop and preparation of the 2013-2017 development plan for corn, which was attended by around 50 farmers from different barangays of Bato.
“Our farmers have been challenged by the Department of Agriculture (DA) into producing more corn that is very suitable to their farms in the plains and uplands and they accepted the challenge for more income and agricultural jobs,” said Mayor Jeanette Bernaldez.
Municipal agricultural officer Alejandro Pili, said under the plan, the DA will provide the necessary infrastructure and post-harvest projects which include farm-to-market roads as more farmers will be encouraged to plant, given the easy access to market, reducing transportation cost and lessen deterioration of the quality of their produce.
To qualify as a cluster, the farmers must have a minimum area of 200 hectares for the plantation and after deliberations, the group was able to come up with 260 hectares out of their farms put together as one huge plantation, Pili said.
With this, the municipality will be part of the 35 regional farm clusters covering some 36,000 hectares of effective area planted to corn.
“With the 260 hectares, we will be emerging as the biggest among the clusters with the potential of becoming the region’s leading producer of corn,” Pili added.
In the newly formulated development plan for corn in Bicol, DA regional corn coordinator Eduardo Lomerio, said the agency is widely promoting corn for food and for health.
It is also addressing major issues and concerns that include low productivity due to low utilization of quality seeds, high production cost and high post-harvest losses which is recorded at 12.7 percent, according to Lomerio.
In the development plan, DA is focusing its interventions on organized groups, that is why it is urging farmers to cluster their farms and form organizations, according to Lomerio.
About 42,000 families in the region are dependent on corn for livelihood. (From PNA report of Danny O. Calleja)