PILI, CAMARINES SUR – To encourage new corn seed growers in the region, the Department of Agriculture 5 – Corn and Cassava Program is conducting more training to enhance farmers’ knowledge and promote the Open-Pollinated Variety (OPV) of Corn seeds.

A three-day Training on OPV Corn Seed Production and Certification for Seed Growers was held at the DA Compound on October 10-11, 2023. Aside from lectures, the training included a practicum, field inspection, and roughing in OPV Corn Seed Production on October 12, 2023 in Baao, Camarines Sur, attended by 15 participants composed of farmers, seed growers, aspirant growers of corn, and representatives from other agricultural institutions.

The training covered integrated pest management, mechanics, policies, and guidelines related to seed certification for OPV Corn Seed Production. Furthermore, the participants learned about seed testing methods, procedures, laboratory standards, seed sampling, sample preparation, roughing in OPV corn seed production, field inspection, seed bagging, tagging of OPV corn seed lots, and the proper completion of BPI-NSQCS forms.

According to Engr. Amabel N. Bombase, Corn and Cassava Program Regional Coordinator. Open-pollinated varieties of corn seeds are usually more genetically diverse resulting to remarkable variations within its populations. These seeds are pollinated naturally, primarily by wind or insects, and produce offspring with traits similar to the parent plant. It ultimately allows the OPV corn seeds to adapt to local growing conditions and climates every year. They are often referred to as heirloom or traditional corn varieties, known for producing corn cobs with multiple colors of kernels. Seeds coming from an open-pollinated variety of plants can be replanted and produce the same exact plant growing out of it.

Furthermore, OPV Corn is used in producing alternative staple foods such as rice-corn blends, which contribute to food security in the Bicol Region. In some far-flung municipalities in the province of Masbate, residents are already processing rice-corn blends as alternative to pure rice. This alternative blend is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber and also helps in preventing diabetes and obesity.

Robert L. Valler, Jr. of Dr. Emilio B. Espinosa Sr. Memorial State College of Agriculture and Technology (DEBESMSCAT) in Masbate shared his insight on the training. He said, “Malaking opportunity ito sa amin lalong-lalo na nabigyan kaming pagkakataton para maging seed grower at mapataas ang kalidad ng aming produkto. Meron din po tayong sure market, ito ang kinagandahan ng aming produkto. Ma-produce lang naman tayo ng mais, bakit hindi pa yung mas mahal. Dito nagpapasalamat po ako sa opportunity coming from our institution para magamit po ng aming mga students para sa tamang pag-aalaga ng mga OPV Corn.”

The primary goal of the training is to invigorate local OPV corn seed production within the entire region, as this variety is currently more abundant in other regions. Furthermore, the program aims to guide farmers toward achieving higher yields and income.

One of the participants, Ms. Lilia Baylon of Mt. Isarog Grains Small Corn Association (MIGSCA), shared her experience, “Nagpa-invite talaga ako sa training na ini dahil gusto ko talagang makanuod dahil bago akong planter nin corn kaya lang hybrid. Naoogma ako dahil kadakulon pa akong dae naaraman tungkol sa pagtanom lalo na ining tungkol sa white corn. Very interesting, challenging at the same time sa part mi na first-time seed growers.”

The Department of Agriculture remains committed to supporting farmers and agricultural producers in their efforts to produce high-quality corn and corn seeds by conducting training sessions, and workshops, and by providing necessary assistance and interventions. (Ma. Edelyn F. Bongalos) PHOTO CREDIT: Ramon Adversario, Jr, and Zandra Abogado.