Gov’t plans to re­vive in­dus­try with pro­duc­tion of BT cot­ton

Manila Bulletin - - Business News - By MADELAINE B. MIRAFLOR

The coun­try is look­ing to re­vive the coun­try’s cot­ton in­dus­try as it tar­gets to pro­duce 66,000 met­ric tons of biotech (BT) cot­ton pro­duc­tion by 2020, just enough for the coun­try to start ex­port­ing this par­tic­u­lar com­mod­ity within the ASEAN re­gion.

Dur­ing the sec­ond an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of Philip­pine Fiber In­dus­try Devel­op­ment Author­ity (PhilFIDA), it was men­tioned that the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (DA) will strengthen the pro­duc­tion of cot­ton in the coun­try.

PhilFIDA is an at­tached agency un­der DA.

“The pro­duc­tion of BT cot­ton can po­ten­tially re­vive the coun­try’s cot­ton in­dus­try,” PhilFIDA of­fi­cer-in-charge ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Clar­ito Bar­ron said in his speech dur­ing the event held in Que­zon City on Wed­nes­day.

To be able to do this, Bar­ron said the gov­ern­ment has formed a five-year pro­gram for cot­ton pro­duc­tion in the Philip­pines.

For 2016, the tar­geted size of pro­duc­tion area for BT cot­ton stood at 40 hectares and this should grow to 2,600 hectares in 2017. Then this is should surge to 8,000 hectares by 2018 and to 17,000 hectares by 2019.

By 2020, the size of pro­duc­tion area for BT cot­ton should be as huge as 22,000 hectares, with an­nual pro­duc­tion of as much as 66,000 met­ric tons (MT).

Bar­ron told re­porters the coun­try could ini­tially pro­duce 120 MT to 24,000 MT over the next four years but by 2019, the coun­try’s pro­duc­tion of BT cot­ton should at least stand at more than 50,000 MT.

The po­ten­tial ar­eas for cot­ton pro­duc­tion will be spread out within all re­gions in the coun­try, with fo­cus on Pan­gasi­nan, La Union, Ilo­cos Sur, Ilo­cos Norte, Panay, Sarangani, and South Cota­bato.

If achieved, PhilFIDA of­fi­cer-in­charge deputy ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Petron­ilo Jabay said the coun­try could po­ten­tially start ex­port­ing BT cot­ton in other ASEAN coun­tries by 2020.

As of now, BT cot­ton pro­duc­tion is not yet com­mer­cial­ized within the coun­try.

Bar­ron said the DA should have the per­mit to prop­a­gate the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of BT cot­ton by Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to him, it is im­por­tant that the gov­ern­ment will fi­nally start the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of this cer­tain com­mod­ity be­cause this will in­crease the prof­itabil­ity of the lo­cal cot­ton farm­ers.

To sup­port this ef­fort, the DA has al­lo­cated a bud­get for the mul­ti­lo­ca­tion field testing for BT cot­ton.

It was al­ready re­ported years ago that the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of BT cot­ton could in­deed save the do­mes­tic cot­ton in­dus­try but it is only in 2004 when the Biotech­nol­ogy Pro­gram of the DA ini­ti­ated ef­forts to in­tro­duce and eval­u­ate BT cot­ton va­ri­eties lo­cally.

The Cot­ton Devel­op­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (CODA), in pre­vi­ous re­ports, said that ap­proval of BT cot­ton could pro­mote cot­ton grow­ing, ex­pand ar­eas planted to the crop, in­crease farm pro­duc­tiv­ity, and re­duce pro­duc­tion costs.

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