Domoguen: Cordillera farmers join global corn bandwagon

CORN is the “most produced grain in the world.”

In 2008, the global annual production for corn was at 822,712,527 tons. The average yield was 5.1 tons hectare, according to the Business Insider, a business site on the web acquired by German media company Axel Springer SE in September 2015.

After corn, wheat is next with annual production at 689,945,712 tons and an average yield of 3.1 tons/hectare.

The other top global crops in terms of production are rice with a total annual production of 685,013,374 tons and average yield of 4.3 tons/hectare; potatoes, 314,140,107 tons and an average yield of 17.2 tons/hectare; cassava, 232,950,180 tons and average yield of 12.5 tons/hectare; and, soybeans, 230,952,636 tons and an average yield of 2.4 tons/hectare.

These are followed by sweet potatoes, sorghum, yams, and plantains, the Business Insider reported.

Corn is among the top 10 crops in the Philippines and it is produced not only for food.

Corn is found in almost everything. That is because the kernel is made up of four major components – starch, fiber, protein, iron, vitamin B, minerals, and oil – that can be processed in different ways to be used in all kinds of products. In the USA, the use of corn has expanded to suit every human need possible and imaginable.

For example, besides ethanol derived from corn, biodegradable corn-based plastic is now used by manufacturers in food containers and plastic food packaging, disposable dishware, and even gift cards.

Corn derivatives are now found in some batteries in the form of “bioelectricity”. In batteries, cornstarch is often used as an electrical conductor.

Cornstarch is also a common ingredient in many cosmetic and hygiene items, including deodorants. Gel deodorants and hand sanitizer contain a corn derivative in the form of denatured alcohol or ethanol.
Newborn babies have corn to thank for the absorbent layer found in modern diapers and baby powder is also produced with cornstarch due to its absorbent nature.

Would you believe cornstarch is a common ingredient in the production of matchsticks that are formed on paper or cardstock that may include corn products in the paper itself?

Today, many medications and vitamins contain cornstarch as a binder or coating. Cornstarch is an appealing ingredient for medicines because it’s a well-researched and natural product that’s easily digested by humans.
Corn is rich in Vitamin C, making it an appealing source for enriching various products or in the production of vitamin C tablets.

Corn is also used in carpet and textile making.

Make a survey on the internet on the uses of corn and it will show that many manufactured products today has some corn derivative in it. These include crayon, yogurt, glue and other adhesives, chewy fruit candies, beverages like coke, toothpaste, dish detergent, paper, clothing dyes, explosives, and soaps, the list can be vast.

Corn will continue to be the most important crop on planet earth for as long as there are human beings that live on it.

In the Cordillera, corn is fast becoming a major agricultural industry.
When the Cordillera Administrative Region was set-up in 1978, there was no corn industry in the region to speak of, except the plantings of native sweet corn integrated with swidden crops.

In 2002, corn is the top temporary crop, followed by rice, in the provinces of Ifugao and Mountain Province.

Today, corn is an important crop in the five provinces of the region, except Benguet. Many farmers have actually replaced their permanent and temporary crops to the cultivation of corn.

But there are numerous negative environmental consequences of corn farming in the areas of the region where it is currently grown.
Corn is usually grown in sloping terrain and farmers have stripped the land of its plant cover just to grow corn. This causes erosion, land degradation, gully formation, and siltation.

To save the farmers from the extensive capital required for corn production in devastated lands and the corn industry from deteriorating, the agriculture department in the region is introducing good agricultural practices and sustainable corn production technologies and strategies in sloping areas.

The agency through its Corn Program, regional agricultural and fisheries information section, Agricultural Training Institute, and local government units has produced a broadcast learning module for the above purpose. The module can also serve as an agricultural extension reference material that teaches its readers how to eat mountain landscapes without destroying and consuming them.