June 22, 2024

The Department of Agriculture-Cordillera is keen to conserving indigenous and traditional genetic resources in the region.

With the Corn Germplasm Utilization through Advanced Research Development (CGUARD) Project of the DA-Cordillera, 746 traditional corn samples have been collected from 2023 to 2024 in 57 barangays in the six municipalities in Benguet and Mountain Province.

The collected samples are cleaned for conservation at the Plant Genetic Resources Center (PGRC) of the DA-Cordillera located at the Baguio Animal Breeding and Research Center in Dontogan, Baguio City.

The PGRC currently stands as a repository of indigenous crops such as heirloom rice seed and traditional corn seed samples that would be documented, regenerated, and conserved.

It was established through the partnership of the DA-Cordillera and the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research for the conservation of traditional crops in the region.

Before the collection of traditional corn samples, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was acquired from the concerned communities, with the facilitation of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Aside from collecting, the CGUARD Project is also documenting the morphological characteristics of traditional corns.

There are already 56 traditional corn seed samples collected from Kabayan, Benguet at present are characterized at the BABRC to document their characteristics for future development of corn varieties.

During the FPIC process, only Kabayan, Benguet gave its consent for off-site characterization and breeding of their traditional corn seeds.

This decision by the community underscored the importance of community involvement and empowerment in agricultural efforts by the agency.

Traditional corn exists in the indigenous cultural communities, mostly in the highlands. Based on initial discussions with the farmers by the researchers, traditional corn is usually planted in small areas, often, intercropped with peanut, sweet potato, pigeon pea, among others.

Despite this, these crops have been diligently conserved and used by the communities as food sources across generations. – Sherry Antonio-Ngongot