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Biotechnology boosts corn farmers’ yield, income









  •  October 03, 2015
  •  Lilibeth A. French

ILOILO CITY, Oct. 3 (PIA6) – – The use of biotech corn technology has generated higher yield and increased the income of around 400,000 farmers mostly started as ‘resource poor’ in the country.

Data presented by Dr. Saturnina Halos, Chair of the Philippine Biotechnology Advisory Team of the Department of Agriculture, during the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology here on September 30 showed that in the country the average yield advantage of biotech corn over ordinary hybrid corn is 19 percent.

The same data bared that farmers planting biotech corn has an income advantage of 8 percent as compared to those who are using the ordinary hybrid corn. The return on investment over ordinary hybrid corn of biotech corn is higher by 42 percent.

Halos said a study in 2013 showed how corn farmers spend their income from biotechnology. Some 78.7 percent respondents said they spent their income on their daily expenses; 60.9 percent used the money for their children’s education; 46 percent for home improvement; 24 percent for farm capital; 3.7 percent to buy their vehicles; and .5 percent of respondents said they can now spend for leisure and recreation.

Halos said the money is spent by farmers locally so it helps fuel the rural economy. She added that the data also means that farmers who can now send their children to the universities are already out of poverty.

Philippines is among the seven economies in APEC that are producing biotech crops with corn as its only genetically modified crop. Other APEC economies that are into biotechnology are United States, Canada, China, Australia, Mexico and Chile.

Halos said Indonesia and Vietnam will be joining the list of economies in the region this year after the cultivation of their biotech crops was approved.

Modern biotech crop commodities are cheaper by 20% as compared with their non-transgenic counterpart if available, said Halos.

In the Philippines, biotech crops are grown in 800,000 hectares and in the Asia-Pacific region, these are cultivated in some 90.15 million hectares, about 50 percent of area globally planted which is 181.5 million hectares.

As of 2014, there are now 18 million farmers in 28 economies around the world planting modern biotech crops. Of the total number of farmers, 91.7 percent or 16.5 million are ‘resource-poor’.

Halos said the global average for the increases in crop yield of these farmers is about 22 percent and the average for increases in their profits is about 68 percent.

“And if you are going to visit each country what you are going to see is that this is a measure for alleviating poverty,” said Halos. (JSC/LAF-PIA6 Iloilo)



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