Since 2015, Butuan has garnered recognition four times in the National Quality Corn Achievers Awards of the Department of Agriculture. But the laurels are not stopping the local government and its people to continue their mission to bring about sufficient production of local corn grains towards food security.
With the collective efforts of its local leaders, program coordinators, and agricultural extension workers (AEWs), Butuan has become one of the top corn-producing cities in the country. In its medium-term development plan for 2016-2021, the local government unit (LGU) has committed even more resources to create economic opportunities for corn farmers and sustainable development for the corn sub-sectors in the city.
To make this happen, the LGU has strategized for the enhancement of productivity of the corn farmers in cluster areas by linking them with institutional buyers, building their entrepreneurship capabilities, encouraging them to work with other corn stakeholders, and promoting environment-friendly technologies and practices. These clusters are the SUTAFA Corn Cluster, CO Management Corn Cluster, MIFA Corn Cluster, Morning Star Corn Cluster, and Southern Star Corn Cluster.
Local leaders also seek to expand corn production areas for both hybrid and open pollinated varieties (OPV) with an increase in yield of 7 tons per hectare for hybrid and 3.5 tons per hectare for OPV. To attain this, support services are being provided for production, extension and training, information dissemination, irrigation systems, production and post-harvest machinery, farm-to-market roads, and market development.
Over the years, erratic climate conditions, pest and diseases, unstable prices of inputs, and lack of farming equipment have resulted in production losses and hindered farmers to attain high productivity and income. In spite of these, through the assistance of the city government and its corn clusters, Butuan achieved an average yield of 3.32 metric tons per hectare and a 15 percent average increment in volume of production. This is a special feat for the city especially with the one percent decrease in average area harvested for both yellow and white corn from 2015 to 2017. Moreover, Butuan was also able to produce quality and safe corn grains with a premium grade for yellow corn grains.
Despite the very few AEWs assigned in its 45 barangays, the city government was still able to provide production support services by distributing hybrid and OPV corn seeds, biological control agents, and fertilizers. Extension support, education, and training services were, likewise, provided through farmer field schools and technology demonstration facilities. Season-long training of trainers, integrated crop management, and training on Good Agricultural Practices for corn and cassava were also conducted for the farmers.
Additionally, the provision of agricultural machinery and equipment such as tractor, corn planter vertical dryer, compact corn mill, sheller, and hammer mill has also contributed to an increase in productivity and minimized production losses of corn farmers.
As a city with almost 2,000 hectares devoted to corn, the Butuan LGU recognizes that they still have a long way to go. But the commitment of its leaders, agricultural workers, and farmers is giving the city government only the best reason to keep Butuan moving forward. (with reports from Kristine Marie Bernadette Montes)