The government should promote the use of higher-yielding genetically modified (GM) seed varieties to boost corn output and enable farmers to export, according to an executive of Monsanto Philippines Inc. (MPI).
MPI Country Commercial Lead Rachelle Lomibao said expanding the use of modern technology will help the government achieve its goal of exporting corn in the near future.
“If you just increase the yield average per hectare then you don’t have to increase the number of hectares to be planted with corn. You just increase productivity per hectare and that’s not impossible,” Lomibao told the BusinessMirror on the sidelines of the company’s media launch of a new hybrid corn seed variety on Monday.
However, the MPI executive said the use of hybrid-corn seed varieties alone is not enough to turn the Philippines’s dream of exporting the crop into a reality.
“It’s not just about the seeds; it has to be accompanied by a lot of factors: fertilization, right agronomic practices, right management of water and right management of diseases and pests,” Lomibao said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier said the Philippines will achieve a “historic feat” this year by exporting corn due to a surplus in output.
However, Lomibao said she doesn’t see this happening this year.
“We may not be able to export this year due to the gap between the supply and demand,” she said.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the country’s self-sufficiency ratio on corn declined to 91.35 percent in 2015, from 93.12 percent
recorded in 2014.
On Monday MPI rolled out Dekalb 6999S, a hybrid corn seed variety, which has a potential yield of 13.6 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha), more than triple than the country’s average yield of 4 MT/ha.
“Based on our trials it has a potential yield of as much as 13.6 MT/ha. This variety can be used both for wet and dry seasons,” MPI Marketing Lead Pam Valenzuela told reporters in a news briefing on Monday.
“This variety is what we need to reduce the gap between what is currently being produced and the demand,” Valenzuela added.
Dekalb 6999S contains Genuity, a Monsanto trait technology that makes the crop resistant to pests, such as corn borer, earworm and cutworm, according to MPI. MPI also said its latest product is protected against weeds due to its Round Up Ready component.
When asked if the MPI’s latest seed variety could withstand extreme weather condition such as drought, Lomibao said, “it will thrive.”
“Dekalb has been known to have a germplasm that is really resilient against drought. Our previous variety the Dekalb 6919 survived when planted during the last time we had El Niño,” she said.
“The germplasm, which is drought-tolerant used in 6919, is the same with that of Dekalb 6999S. We are confident that with Dekalb 6999s farmers can still be accorded with an optimum yield through our hybrid [seeds],” she added.
Lomibao also disclosed that there are several hybrid corn seed varieties currently in the pipeline.