September 8, 2008


Hot corn market may force Philippine feedmillers to use more cassava

Feedmillers will be forced to use more cassava as a feed ingredient due to high corn prices and a possible fall in corn output, according to government and industry officials.

Feedmillers will look for alternatives once corn prices increase, said Ricardo M. Pinca, vice-president of the Philippine Association of Feed Millers, Inc.


President of the Philippine Maize Federation (Philmaize), Roger C. Navarro, said the use of cassava as a substitute is a welcome sign, but cassava can only substitute for 5-10 percent of the entire feed ingredients.


Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Dennis B. Araullo held a different view – cassava can completely replace corn in feed production.


"Cassava is the best substitute for corn," Mr. Araullo said, citing lower cassava price of PHP 5.50 per kg, compared with PHP 10-11 per kg of yellow corn.


Corn output this year may fall short of 5.4 percent from the government's forecast due to typhoons and increase in fertiliser prices. The full-year estimation was adjusted last month to 7 million tonnes from 7.4 million tonnes, according to data from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS).


Fertiliser prices, which account for up to 30 percent of crop production costs, have doubled to PHP 1,600-2,000 per bag from PHP 850 per bag last year.


However, president of the United Broiler Raisers' Association Gregorio San Diego noted that domestic supply of cassava is insufficient and that the crop is imported by Indonesian and Vietnamese private companies.


Pinca said technology should be applied to increase cassava output, while San Diego said the Department of Agriculture should organise cassava farmers into geographical clusters, organise planting and put up buying stations to encourage cassava production.


About 14.29 kg of cassava equals the nutritional levels of 1 kg of corn.


In the first half of 2008, cassava output increased 4.6 percent on-year to 949,810 tonnes from 907,990 tonnes, according to BAS data.


The government plans to increase cassava plantations to 300,000 hectares by 2010 from the current 215,000 hectares, and raise average yield per hectare to 15 tonnes from the current 8.93 tonnes.

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