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Mindoro farmers avoid Bt-corn, try new variety developed by DAR

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A GROUP of farmers in Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro, have decided to shy away from planting what they were told to be “superior” corn variety and would now be the first to try planting a new variety that promises more yields at less cost come October, the next planting season for corn.

The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has introduced an open-pollinated variety (OPV) of yellow corn endorsed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), which is a lot cheaper to grow and produces more yield than the genetically modified corn many farmers are now planting in the province.

DAR Mimaropa Regional Director Erlinda Pearl Armada said the move aims to help farmers earn more by planting the OPV corn variety in lieu of genetically modified organism (GMO) corn, other than rice and vegetables.

Under the DAR’s Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (Arccess), the department tapped 30 farmers of the Armado-Cabacao Farmers’ Marketing Cooperative (Acafarmco) in Abra de Ilog, to become farmer-technicians of the new corn variety.

Armada said prior to the introduction of the OPV, farmers plant the corn variety called GMO ingested with Bacillus thiriengensis, a soil bacterium that repels insects, particularly the corn borrer.

Also called BT-corn, seeds of GM corn are expensive and requires a lot of fertilizer to produce enough corn.

Based on studies made by crop specialists hired through Arccess, the use of OPV will decrease the cost of seed procurement by 90 percent.

Crop specialist Dr. Rafael Barroso said that the OPV is a non-GMO seed.

“The OPV is a much better variety because the corn seeds are produced through a natural process called open-pollination.  It is a natural and safer process as opposed to the GMO which uses genetically modified organism to produce corn seeds and is, therefore, more expensive and not natural,” Barroso explained.

Barroso said introduction of the OPV reduced the cost of buying seeds from P12,000  to P2,000 per hectare, a clear savings of P11,000 for the farmer.”

To prove the OPV’s superiority over the GMO, the DAR utilized the 1-hectare farm of Luis Latic, a farmer-beneficiary and one of the 30 farmer-technicians of Acafarmco, as a demo-farm. The demo-farm served as the learning laboratory venue for the 30 farmers.

By harvest time, Latic’s 1-hectare demo-farm produced 87 cavans of OPV corn instead of the usual 54 cavans using GMO (BT-corn) seeds.

Latic said with Bt-corn, he spends P56,000 on production cost and it will yield only 57 cavans. With OPV, he said he only spent P42,000 and it produced 87 cavans of corn.

“We have successfully proven to our 30 farmer-technicians of Acafarmco the benefits of using OPV of yellow corn. Now it’s their turn to transfer what they have learned and witnessed in the demo-farm to convince other farmers here,” Armada said.

Source: http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/business/agri-commodities/34117-mindoro-farmers-avoid-bt-corn-try-new-variety-developed-by-dar

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