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Pablo damage to corn crops rises to P3.04B

The damage caused by Typhoon Pablo to corn crops has risen to P3.04 billion, corn farmers reported over the weekend. The typhoon swept through 30,000 hectares planted to corn in Mindanao, particularly in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, and destroyed some 210,000 metric tons of the crop. "We are asking for immediate assistance from the government...we need as much as P3 billion to start over again,” Philippine Maize Federation president Roger Navarro said in an interview Sunday. Navarro also said that PhilMaize is requesting that the government provide genetically modified (GM) seeds to farmers in Pablo-affected areas for quick turn-around planting to replace crops that had been damaged while still in the vegetative stage. However, Navarro added, Agriculture officials told him that providing the farmers with GM seeds could be too expensive; at P9,000 per hectare, this means the government would have to release P270 million if it were to distribute GM seeds to the farmers. "One of their recommendations is to make it 50-50, meaning the farmer will shoulder half of the cost of GM seeds. Whatever the government decides to do is okay with us for as long as they act immediately," said Navarro. Meanwhile, PhilMaize has asked the National Dairy Authority to buy the corn as an emergency purchase. "At this stage, these corn cannot be accepted by corn traders and feed millers. However, this is very desirable to the dairy industry for silage," said Navarro. PhilMaize is also calling for the creation of a committee on disaster relief for the corn sector to oversee th edistribution of assistance to farmers affected by the typhoon. — BM, GMA News