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Low-Glycemic White Corn Propagated to Enhance Food Security, Reduce Diabetes
by Joeven C. Calasagsag - Monday, 23 May 2011, 04:49 PM
Department of Agriculture; May 22, 2011

The government is carrying out a seed production program for low-glycemic white corn in an aim to enhance food security and help reduce national diabetes incidence.

A staple food of about 20 percent of Filipinos specially in Visayas and Mindanao , white corn is seen to further capture a wider market with its many health benefits especially when compared to the country’s staple, rice.

Unlike rice, white corn has low glycemic index (GI). Low GI makes white corn slower to digest thereby releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, thus lessening the risk of diabetes.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has been funding the seed production of white corn in Los Banos, Laguna and plans to sustain this on a yearly basis.

The Institute of Plant Breeding-University of the Philippines in Los Banos (IPB-UPLB), which is producing the seed, is propagating a recommended variety, the high-yielding IPB Var 6. IPB Var 6 gives a yield that is nearly comparable to commercial white corn hybrid. Based on the national corn testing, the yield of IPB Var 6 in Luzon was at an average of 5.84 metric tons (MT) per hectare; in Visayas, 5.45 MT per hectare, and in Mindanao , 4.47 MT per hectare.

Under Phase I, DA released P15 million for the seed production program under which a total of 10,000 bags (18 kilos per bag) was produced. DA released P25 million for the Phase II good for about 22,000 bags.

Half these seeds have already been distributed to DA’s regional offices as IPB-UPLB is tasked to produce foundation and registered white corn seeds which will be mass-propagated in the regions.

Moreover, under a proposed program for a continuing seed production, DA will release P7 million yearly over the next five years.

Aside from giving consumers the health benefits, white corn will impact significantly in reducing hunger and malnutrition in the uplands.

"Our aim is to bring technologies to the boondocks where there are many people don’t have much to eat, according to Dr. Artemio M. Salazar, UPLB-IPB deputy director and National Corn RDE (Research, Development, and Extension) Network head.

"You don’t need capital-intensive irrigation facilities because corn grows where ever there is rain. The only other thing we have to provide them is the corn mill.

We also helped develop an inexpensive and mobile mini corn mill which we believe is a critical component in this effort to provide nutritious and inexpensive food to our compatriots in the far flung rural areas." The said mill only costs around P100,000, far lower than the million price tag for high capacity machines in the market.

While promoting white corn for nutrition and livelihood in uplands, white corn will also have a huge health benefit among residents in Metro Manila and other urban areas where there is high incidence of diabetes. "Later on we'll turn over these to the private sector because there is a big demand for it because many Filipinos are now diabetics. And this is the perfect food for diabetics," said Salazar. Diabetes is now a top degenerative disease and a major cause of death in the Philippines .

White corn also has more protein, more lysine and tryptophan, more dietary fiber, more minerals, and more antioxidants than when eating rice alone. The government is now taking initial steps on educating urban consumers on the health benefit and food preparation for white corn. As white corn becomes part of Filipinos’ diet, this will contribute to country’s food self sufficiency.

"Ultimately, this will lessen demand for rice. Just by increasing demand for corn, and we can definitely grow it productively and cheaply, we would no longer have to import rice. This is actually a part of the DA plan", he added.

"The IPB is coordinating with the DA and other local government units (LGU) for the fabrication of this mini corn mill, also called "mill for the barrio". It can process 100 kilos of corn grains per hour. At such capacity, a continuous eight-hour milling produces enough food for more than 1,000 people (population in a barrio), assuming 300 grams of consumption per day. Combined with the corn variety that could yield 5 tons/ha and with high quality protein, white corn could help transform our food consumption and food security picture in the next few years", said Salazar.###

For any inquiries, please contact:
Dr. Artemio M. Salazar, 0918-905-4369
Ms. Ana G. Gabatin, 0919-245-8140

Source: Low-Glycemic White Corn Propagated to Enhance Food Security, Reduce Diabetes

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