THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in Negros Occidental reported an almost six percent drop in corn production last year, with a yield only of 130,167 metric tons from 137,029 metric tons in 2015.

Based on the agency’s annual production and area harvested reports, the province produced 67,433 metric tons of yellow corn and 62,694 metric tons of white variety last year.

The figure is slightly lower compared to 68,621 metric tons and 68,408 metric tons of yellow and white corn, respectively, in 2015 despite an increase in area harvested.

In 2016, PSA recorded a total area of 64,899 hectares, which is larger than the 63,100 hectares two years ago.

Joely Cabarles, officer-in-charge of PSA-Negros Occidental, said that like rice, local corn production was affected by the prolonged dry weather associated with El Niño phenomenon that hit the country starting October 2015.

Cabarles had earlier told SunStar Bacolod that in terms of palay, the province produced a total of 452,582 metric tons last year, which is lower than the 491,239 metric tons in 2015.

The 2016 crop production reports are still subject to the validation of PSA Central Office, but most likely it will no longer be changed, he added.

“Under normal condition, corn production in Negros Occidental is on ascending trend, but with the adverse effects of El Niño, there is an expected drop,” Cabarles pointed out.

PSA records showed that in 2010, the province’s corn production, both of yellow and white varieties, was only 81,088 metric tons. It went up to 89,712 metric tons in 2011, 96,067 metric tons in 2012, 109,749 metric tons in 2013, and 151,637 metric tons in 2014, records further showed.

Despite the decrease in production, Cabarles said “there is nothing to worry about” as only a small portion of the province’s population is using corn for human consumption.

Cabarles said that aside from several corn-eating residents in Calatrava, Salvador Benedicto and San Carlos City, majority of the local production is intended for animal consumption, as feeds.

“In terms of sufficiency, we cannot measure that of corn because it is not the primary crop of the province. Thus, the fluctuation in production cannot be felt, or is not that critical for the local agriculture sector,” he added.

The PSA, meanwhile, attributed the increase in area harvested to utilization of corn as an “alternate or rotation crop” to rice and other commodities like vegetables.

Cabarles added that normally, after the first cropping rice farmers opt to alternate their crop with corn due to expected decrease in the water supply.