Mary Ann Sayoc on Chairing the StAC and the Importance of Partnerships

For MAIZE CRP to achieve its goal of implementing a holistic and relevant research agenda, the guidance provided by its many partners and stakeholders is of paramount importance. For this reason, the MAIZE Stakeholder Advisory Committee (StAC) complements the Management Committee to form a model of inclusive and effective leadership.

Mary Ann SayocAs explained by Mary Ann Sayoc, StAC Chair, in this interview: “I bring together individuals of diverse backgrounds who provide scientific expertise and high-level insights on the management and implementation of MAIZE CRP.”

Sayoc is General Manager of the East-West Seed Company in the Philippines, has served as President of the Philippine Seed Industry Association since 2010 and sits on the Executive Board of the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT).

Who better to understand the advantages of diverse partnerships among both the public and private sector, and what MAIZE has to offer as a partner?  Here, she shares her views about her work with MAIZE CRP, public private partnerships and maize in the Philippines.

What is your role as Chair of the MAIZE Stakeholder Advisory Committee?

As Chair, I preside over meetings of the StAC, work in close collaboration with MAIZE Program Manager Dave Watson and provide feedback to the ongoing independent evaluation of MAIZE CRP. Members of the StAC advise the Lead Center (CIMMYT) on successful partnership strategies and opportunities to enhance the performance of MAIZE, and provide valuable feedback on the overall performance of MAIZE and recommendations on how to address issues and challenges.

What are your priorities for MAIZE CRP?

I would like to see MAIZE CRP engage more strategically in public-private partnerships to broaden its reach and scope. I also believe that MAIZE CRP should include value chain initiatives in its program to enhance farmers’ participation in the entire supply chain. Other priorities are overseeing the implementation of recommendations made by the independent evaluation of MAIZE CRP Governance and Management including enhanced communication with stakeholders and partner organizations.

What does MAIZE CRP add to partnerships?

MAIZE CRP has a lot to offer to partners, namely quality scientific research, germplasm with traits such as disease resistance and drought tolerance, new technologies on variety development and farming practices, as well as access to updated information and data on maize.

As the head of a regional seed organization, why is MAIZE CRP important to the work you do?

MAIZE CRP provides opportunities for collaborative activities between CIMMYT and the Asia and Pacific Seed Association (APSA). Member seed companies are interested in conducting joint testing of new maize varieties suited to the farming conditions in Asia. APSA is a viable link connecting the high-level science of MAIZE CRP to the farmers of Asia and the Pacific through seed companies’ variety development, efficient seed distribution and farmer advisory services.

Maize is the second most popular crop in the Philippines after rice, yet the majority of maize grown in the country is yellow maize, used as animal food, rather than white maize, used for human consumption. Do you believe that this trend is likely to continue? Is it changing?

This trend will likely continue as yellow maize is the primary source of energy in animal nutrition in the Philippines. Poultry and livestock are important sub-sectors of Philippine agriculture. White maize for human consumption is getting more attention, however, and certain regions in the country prefer white maize to rice as staple food.  There is also a developing trend of consuming sweet corn and glutinous corn as healthy snacks. More roadside stalls are beginning to sell these products, and the increased demand is driving smallholder farmers to plant sweet/glutinous corn.

What is the role of public-private partnerships in maize production in the Philippines? What has been the impact of these partnerships?

Public-private sector partnerships are crucial to the development of the maize industry in the Philippines. Public research institutions are good sources of maize germplasm which private seed companies can use to develop new maize varieties that offer higher yields, better ear quality and disease resistance. These partnerships have made improved maize varieties available to smallholder farmers and have improved their access to technology transfer and market linkages, which helps increase their productivity and income.


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