Thursday, September 15, 2011

Batad FITS Center hosts 2nd corn congress

By Sally R. Villasis


Regional Applied Communications Group

Aklan State University

To showcase the technology on open-pollinated corn varieties (OPV), the Farmers Information and Technology Services (FITS) Center based in the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College (NIPSC) Batad Campus in Batad, Iloilo led the Second Municipal Corn Congress and Corn Derby on September 5, 2011 at NIPSC Batad Campus in Batad, Iloilo.

The congress convened some 300 participants composed of farmers, teachers, students, stakeholders of the corn industry, representatives of Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (WESVARRDEC); representatives of seed technology, pesticides and fertilizer companies; government officials in Batad, Iloilo and environs.

Anchored on the theme “Responsable kag Mapadinayunon nga Pagpanguma, Mauswagon nga Banwa,” the congress aimed to encourage farmers and other stakeholders to adopt the OPV technology and natural farming system to increase their corn production and income. With the corn summit this year, the organizers likewise sough to conduct research trials to produce technologies that can be shared with farmers.

In his opening speech, Mr. Ricardo Ayupan, NIPSC Batad’s college administrator, said that crop productivity and food self-sufficiency today can help stop hunger and alleviate poverty.

NIPSC led the corn summit to initiate the sharing of the R&D experience and disseminate its enormous potential not only for Batad but for also for the Western Visayas. Farmers were also urged to maximize and reduce the cost of production and the integration of bio-organic fertilizer.

For his part, Dr. Joel Limson, president of the NIPSC System, stressed that “our country is being struck by two major concerns—how to increase production, and how to protect the environment, both of which seem difficult to achieve.” According to Limson, there is a need to strike a balance between the increasing population and the dwindling resources and production.

Prof. Eva Montero, FITS manager and associate director for research and development, said that they also hosted the first corn congress in 2010. There they found that farmers need to know more information particularly on the importance of nurturing the environment. Therefore, Batad FITS Center coordinated with the National Research Center for Corn to develop the OPV technology. Montero said they were able to produce the seeds during the last cropping. For this current cropping, they conducted weed control trial and major pest survey on corn OPV at a 1.6 hectare corn techno-demo research farm in NIPSC Batad. The efforts were backed by the local government of Batad, NIPSC Batad, and the Agricultural Training Institute-RTC 6 as partner member agency.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ricardo Saltin, corn program coordinator of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Regional Field Unit 6, said that besides promoting white corn, especially in sloping areas, DA has provided post-harvest facilities to support the corn farmers.

Dr. Anna Mae Relingo, Regional Techno Gabay (RTG) coordinator of WESVARRDEC and officer-in-charge of the Office of the Vice-President for Research and Extension of Aklan State University (ASU), enjoined the participants of the economic value of corn not only for human consumption or feeds but for other purposes. Relingo said that various corn products have been promoted by the consortium during regional and national techno fairs, and they usually stand out.

The corn congress featured technology forums on the practice of site-specific nutrient management and the effects of different fertility practices on OPV Maize.

Then, to promote value-addition for the corn as commodity, the organizers hosted a Corn Dish Cooking Contest for Bachelor of Science in hotel and Restaurant Management (BSHRM) students of NIPSC. In the said contest, the Prawns in Corn Pandan Curry Sauce by Warren Castañares and Fritz Bornales, second-year students won the top prize; while the Stuffed Squid with Corn Sauce by freshman Jerome Tullo and the Pan Roasted Chicken with Creamy Corn Garlic Gravy by sophomore Shisan Charm Balete and junior Ronald Balete.

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