September 3, 2003



Philippines Expects Higher Corn Harvest in 2004


The Philippines' corn output is expected to rise 11.6 percent to 5.0 million tons next year as farmers take advantage of increased government lending in the wake of a damaging typhoon, Agriculture Ministry officials said on Sept 3.


The Philippines' government set a budget of about one billion pesos ($18.18 million) in the second half for lending to corn farmers, up sharply from 178 million pesos in the first half, partly to rehabilitate corn areas affected by typhoon Imbudo in July, said Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo.


In August, the government reduced this year's corn harvest estimate to 4.48 million tons from five million tons due to damage caused by Imbudo in the key growing areas on northern Luzon island.


The government is seeking to reduce the level of corn imports, which currently stand at about one million tons annually.


Loans are being extended to farmers to help them buy post harvest facilities like dryers and higher-yielding seeds.


In the first half, the corn harvest rose to 2.05 million tons from 1.93 million a year ago. Artemio Salazar, corn programme director of the Department of Agriculture, said the setting up of new bulk grain handling facilities to enable farmers from southern Mindanao island - which produces about 66 percent of the annual corn harvest - to sell their produce in Luzon island would help raise output.


Feedmillers, who are mostly based in Luzon, have said a lack of port facilities has made it more costly to transport corn from Mindanao than from China.


The feedmillers say they need at least 5.5 million tons of corn each year for animal feed. The farm sector, which accounts for a fifth of the country's gross domestic product, expanded by an annual 2.4 percent in the first half, compared to a 3.22 percent expansion in the same period in 2002.

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