CP FOODS PHILS VOWS TO BUY SORGHUM FROM TRIBAL LANDS
The Department of Agriculture (DA) yesterday launched the National Sorghum Development Program targeting an estimated 1-million hectares to be planted to the crop over the next three years, focusing initially on unutilized tribal lands owned by the marginalised Indigenous People.
The Sorghum Program is aimed at producing an additional 10-million metric tons of feed grains to support the growing livestock and poultry industry of the country which relied mainly on yellow corn and cassava as sources of protein in animal feeds.
The fast growth of the livestock and poultry sector, however, is hampered by the high cost of feed materials, especially Yellow Corn, prompting local feed millers to import corn and Feed Wheat.
Last year, feed millers imported 2-million metric tons of Feed Wheat with a landed cost of about P15 per kilo which is a lot higher than the projected buying price of Sorghum of P12 per kilo.
This could drastically lower the cost of feeds which could be translated to lower price of chicken and pork in the market.
Boosting the launching of the program was the commitment of one of Asia’s biggest agricultural corporation – Charoen Porkphand Foods (CPF) Philippines to purchase the Sorghum produced by the Indigenous People’s communities.
CPF Philippines vice chairman Sakol Cheewakoset and senior vice president Sompong Rojanaadisorn joined the launching of the Sorghum Program in Makilala, North Cotabato yesterday, along with the company’s animal nutrition expert.
CPF senior vice president for Livestock Feed Business Sompong Rojanaadisorn signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Tribal People’s Group pledging to purchase the Sorghum Production from the Ancestral Domain Areas.
The Department of Agriculture’s Special Area for Agricultural Development (DA SAAD) Program will provide the production support to the Indigenous People who will participate in the program.
The Regional Executive Directors (RED) of the DA who attended yesterday’s launching were directed to establish Sorghum Pilot Farms in their respective regions to serve as learning sites for other farmers who would like to participate in the program.
Sorghum is an African grass which produces high-protein grains comparable to yellow corn is an ideal source of animal feeds raw materials.
A variety called Sweet Sorghum produces grains for human consumption.
While Sorghum was introduced to the Philippines many years ago, the DA in the past hardly gave it much focus prompting Sorghum advocates like Dr. Heraldo Layaoen of the Ilocos Region to decry the lost opportunities because of government neglect of the promising crop.
Yesterday, Layaoen, who spoke on the vast potentials of Sorghum for human food and animal feeds declared that the crop has found a champion in the new leadership of the DA.
During the launching yesterday, General Santos City cattleman Arnel Corpuz presented to the Tribal People the potentials of Sorghum stalks for animal silage emphasizing that from silage alone, farmers could earn P120,000 in addition to the grains that they will sell to CP Foods Philippines.
A mushroom expert from the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the DA based in Central Luzon, Dr. Emily Soriano, also said Sorghum is the most ideal substrate in growing mushrooms.
The launching of the National Sorghum Development Program was capped with the ceremonial planting of seeds in a 5-hectare area along the National Highway in San Vicente, Makilala which was offered by retired police Colonel Patricio Piñol to be used as Pilot Farm for free.
Top officials of the DA including Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan, Asst. Secretary for Agribusiness Andrew Villacorta, the DA Executive Directors of all regions, executives of CP Foods Philippines and the tribal leaders joined the ceremonial planting.
-By Manny Piñol