The agriculture sector grew at a slower pace during the third quarter of the year, as increases in crop and fisheries production were not enough to offset the losses recorded in livestock and poultry.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that from July to September, farm sector’s production crawled to a growth of 0.7 percent, which is way slower compared to the 2.3 percent growth it had in the same period in 2019.
From January to September, the sector declined by 0.2 percent, coming from a 0.4 percent growth during the same period last year.
But the government seems to be on the right track in terms of implementing interventions in the agriculture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he was “delighted to know that the country’s agriculture sector once again performed positively during the third quarter of the year, despite the combined effects of the community lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic and severe weather conditions during the months of July to September”.
“We are on the right track particularly on our palay and corn production program initiatives in partnership with farmers’ groups, local government units and the private sector,” Dar said.
He also said the performance of hog and poultry sectors was expected due to the lingering effects of the ASF and low demand for poultry products, respectively.
“In all, we commend our ‘heroes’ – the farmers and fisherfolk — who continue to persevere and toil
despite the odds,” he further said.
In previous statements, Dar said he is hopeful that agricultural production could still grow by 1.5 percent by the end of 2020.
Such forecast is lower than Dar’s earlier 2020 growth target of 2 percent, but it is still ambitious in a sense that if achieved, it would end the years of either decline or sluggish growth that the agriculture sector only managed to pull off.
In 2019, the country’s agriculture sector grew only by 0.7 percent throughout the year, only slightly higher than the annual growth level of 0.6 percent recorded in 2018.
In a previous virtual briefing, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the recent typhoons, Quinta and Rolly, will definitely have an impact in the country’s agriculture growth but it’s still hard to quantify it since the government is yet to complete the monitoring of the damage and losses the sector incurred in recent weeks.
At current prices, the value of agricultural production grew by 4.1 percent to P404.6 billion in the third quarter of this year from P388.5 billion recorded in the same period last year.
During the period, crop production by 4.8 percent, contributing 52.7 percent to the total agricultural output.
This, since the production levels of palay and corn were up by 15.2 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, while double-digit production growths were noted for sugarcane at 23.8 percent and cacao at 12.0 percent.
Output increases were recorded for potato, eggplant, mongo, sweet potato, and mango, while lower production was seen in tobacco, calamansi, pineapple, cabbage, banana, onion, coffee, cassava, abaca, coconut, and tomato.
In total, the value of crop production amounted to P211.1 billion, which is 10.8 percent higher compared to previous year’s level.
Fisheries production, which shared 15.8 percent in the total agricultural output, also grew by 1.9 percent.
The value of fisheries production amounted to P63.4 billion during the period, which was lower by -0.9 percent.
Meanwhile, livestock production, which accounted for 17.5 percent of the total agricultural output, was down by 7.6 percent during the period.
Dragged by African Swine Fever (ASF) and logistics issues prompted by COVID-19 lockdown, hog recorded a reduction in output at 7.7 percent, while production of cattle and carabao also dropped by 10.7 percent and by 6.3 percent, respectively.
At current prices, the value of livestock production fell by 1.6 percent to P71.4 billion.
Chicken production, on the other hand, contracted by 7.2 percent this period.
At current prices, the value of poultry production amounted to P58.7 billion, down by 4.4 percent from the previous year’s level.