Agriculture sector shrinks 1.5% in Q2

Published August 9, 2021, 10:04 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Philippine agriculture sector output decreased by 1.5 percent in the second quarter this year, its third consecutive quarter of decline, with its staple still reeling from the lingering impact of the African Swine Fever- (ASF).

Farm workers thresh rice during a harvest, in the barangay of Palattao, in Naguilian, Isabela province, the Philippines. (Photographer: Nana Buxani/Bloomberg file photo)

Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), released on Monday, August 9, showed that the country’s agriculture sector fell by 1.5 percent during the second quarter of the year, coming from a mere growth of 0.5 percent during the same period last year.
The farm sector is now into its three consecutive quarters of decline in production after its output went down by 3.3 percent in the first quarter of this year and 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. For the entire 2020, the sector declined by 1.2 percent.

At current prices, the value of agricultural production went up by 7.2 percent to P503.3 billion during the second quarter of the year.

From January to June, the value of agricultural production at constant 2018 prices contracted by 2.5 percent.

This was unfortunate news to the Department of Agriculture (DA), which just recently pegged the growth target for 2020 at 2 percent. Business Bulletin sought for Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s comment on the sector’s poor quarterly performance, but he has not yet issued a response.

Still heavily affected by the continuous spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), livestock production, which contributed 14.2 percent to the total agricultural production, declined by 19.3 percent in the second quarter of 2021. Hog production particularly fell by 26.2 percent.

At current prices, the value of livestock production, which amounted to P85.8 billion, was 18.6 percent higher than the previous year’s level. But from January to June 2021, livestock production registered a -21.4 percent decrease.

Fisheries production, which shared 16.1 percent of the total agricultural production, also dropped by 1.1 percent this quarter.

At current prices, the value of fisheries production amounted to P80.2 billion or 9.5 percent higher compared to the previous year’s same period record. From January to June 2021, fisheries production decreased by -0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the production of crops and poultry posted increases during the period.

Backed by the growth in the country’s main staples, crop production went up by 3.1 percent, accounting for 56.2 percent of the total agricultural production. This, as palay production particularly went up by 1.2 percent and corn by 6.3 percent.

At current prices, crop production was valued at P267.2 billion, an increase of 1.9 percent this quarter. For the first half of 2021, the production of crops was higher by 3.2 percent.

Poultry production, on the other hand, increased by 2.5 percent during the period. It accounted for 13.5 percent of the total agricultural production. However, contraction in production was noted for chicken at -1.6 percent.

At current prices, the value of poultry production amounted to P70.1 billion, higher by 13.9 percent from the previous year’s same period record. In the first six months of 2021, poultry exhibited a production decline of 2.6 percent.

Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) President Danilo Fausto told Business Bulletin over the weekend that some policy decisions – including the issuance of Executive Orders (EO) 135, 134, and 133 – issued during the first half of this year definitely had an impact in the performance of the agriculture sector.

EO 135 temporarily lowered import tariff rates for rice coming from non-ASEAN countries, while EO 134 and 133 are meant to allow the entry of more imported pork in the country.

According to Fausto, these EOs discouraged investors to expand and invest in agriculture production and innovations.

“It brings the painful reality of bias of government to consumers versus production instead of balancing the two sectors which in the long run will hurt our agriculture sector, food security and improving the lives of our poor farmers,” Fausto told Business Bulletin.

Pambansang Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (PKMP) Chairman Ed Mora also said farmers no longer care about the agriculture sector’s performance as they just want to be able to eat and survive during the pandemic.

“Even if we see a growth in the performance of agriculture sector, it doesn’t matter anymore,” Mora said. “Because farmers remain poor and most of us are swimming in debt”.

Mora said it’s the lockdown restrictions and lack of government subsidy that worsened the situation of the farmers over the last six months.