In support to the DA’s new thrust and advocacy on the Rice-Corn Blend (RiCo) Initiative, a training on the production and certification of open pollinated variety (OPV) white corn seed was conducted by the Department of Agriculture – Cordillera Administrative Region (DA-CAR) through its Regulatory Division- Seed Grower Accrediatation Unit last April 16-20, 2018 at Cagayan Valley Agricultural Research Center (CVARC) , Ilagan, Isabela.

The five-day intensive training was part of the overall capability building effort of the department for 17 corn farmers from the provinces of Abra, Kalinga, Ifugao and Apayao who are white corn seeds producers in compliance to Administrative Order 20  series of 2007 1A – Eligibility Criteria of Seed Growers.

Regional Corn Coordinator Gerardo P. Banawa stressed that the training served as a venue to equip farmers with the knowledge on production and certification of OPV white corn seeds.

Banawa said this is to ensure and sustain the timely availability and adequate supply of high quality OPV white corn seeds in the region, the certified seeds produced will serve as seed buffer stock during typhoons and calamities and to sustain the regional target of the OPV white corn seeds for the RiCo Initiative.

“The trained farmers will be the partners of the department in helping corn producers to sustain the availability and affordability planting of high quality OPV white flint corn seeds in order to achieve the production target in the region,” Banawa added.

After the lecture-discussions, an actual field practicum was undertaken at the Corn Breeding Farms of CIARC for the farmers-trainee to give them actual experience the basic skills of conducting field inspections, crop assessment, variety identification and rouging following the National Seed Quality Control Services (NSQCS) guidelines on seedcertification.

Banawa also assured that the department will assist the trained farmers in marketing their excess certified flint corn seeds in the region and other nearby provinces.

However, the OPV seeds must first pass the standards of the NSQCS of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI). If it passes, it will be labeled certified seeds and can be sold to the market at a higher value.

For next year (2019) the DA’s seed subsidy project given to the farmers and they will no longer receive seedlings from the agency, thus, the department continues to assist and encourage farmers to produce their own certified seeds. // A. Cañero