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White Corn Will No Longer Be A Poor Man’s Rice
A significant number of Filipinos particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao regions eat white corn as their staple food. This is in the part of the country where poverty still much prevails and where white corn is commonly planted instead of rice.
Contrary to some food fallacies that eating white corn is not as healthy as eating well-milled and fancy rice, white corn, according to UPLB breeder Dr. Artemio Salazar who is based at the Crop Science Cluster-College of Agriculture, has higher amylose content than rice. It is thus slower to digest, and people regularly eating it tend to feel full and do not over-eat. Is it not one good way to reduce weight?
Being a slow release carbohydrate food, white corn has low a glycemic index. “People with diabetes mellitus should eat more of it because it does not raise blood sugar levels dramatically,” Dr. Salazar added. White corn nowadays is considered in meal plans of diabetics and would potentially command a higher price than regular rice in the future.
Inclusion of white corn in diet pushed
UPLB researchers have already formulated a rice-corn mixture that have passed sensory and acceptability tests. White corn is processed into grits and then mixed with ordinary rice to produce what is called ‘rice composite’.
According to a report by Dr. Wilma A. Hurtada of Institute of the Human Nutrition and Food-College of Human Ecology, 60% rice and 40% corn grits composite is comparable with rice alone in taste acceptability. In cooking pure corn grits, it is recommended to add a cup of water to the regular 1 cup corn-1 cup water ratio. This would produce ‘corn rice’ with much softer texture.
Extensionists at the College of Agriculture are now promoting the UPLB Rice-Corn Composite in every exhibition, technology demonstration and other venues. “We are emphasizing the potential benefits – nutritional and economic – of using white corn in any chance we get,” Dr. Salazar pointed out.
Economic and health-wise benefits
By 2020, the Philippine population would be about 111 M. Bigger production of white corn in the future would provide more flexibility for the country in meeting its increasing food requirements.
Dr. Salazar is optimistic that with the renewed interest in white corn, there will be an increase in corn eaters. “Importation of rice will decrease, saving the government money to support other important matters such as education and infrastructure,” he further added.
White corn could help feed Filipinos, most of whom live below the poverty threshold, and who have no source of dispensable income to support a lifelong disease such as diabetes.
Country-wide strategy to produce more white corn
“The Department of Agriculture (DA) realizes that white corn production in the Philippines should also be given concern,” said Dr. Salazar, who is also a member of the Technical Working Group of the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Corn Program of the DA.
The university already has an agreement with the Department of Agriculture for the latter to produce 10,000 bags of UPLB’s IPB Var 6 white corn seeds for distribution to farmers. IPB Var 6 is a corn variety loaded with high lysine and tryptophan levels hence, has more protein content.
A yellow version of IPB Var 6 is being developed for animal and poultry feeds. It will not entail feed millers extra costs for expensive feed additives, thus lowering production costs.
“Being an open-pollinated variety, IPB Var 6 can be easily shared among farmers for succeeding plantings after their first harvest. This technology suits well for poor corn farmers hard put in acquiring expensive farm inputs,” Dr. Salazar concluded.