Dar still expects agri sector to recover by year end

Published August 10, 2021, 11:39 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

Agriculture Secretary William Dar assured that efforts to help the livestock sector, which heavily dragged the performance of the country’s agriculture sector during the first half of the year, recover from the African Swine Fever (ASF) are in full force.

Hog raiser Val Ruiz is in disbelief that 28 of his pigs will be among the 3,000 hogs in two villages in Davao City that would be culled in February, 2020 as part of preventive measures against African swine fever (ASF). (Keith Bacongco/MANILA BULLETIN)

“Rest assured that we will continuously and vigorously implement the Bantay ASF sa Barangay and its twin hog repopulation program, in partnership with the local government units, hog raisers’ groups, and the private sector to revive the country’s swine industry,” Dar said in response to the agriculture sector’s poor second quarter performance.

On Monday, August 9, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s agricultural output fell by 1.5 percent from April to June, coming from a mere growth of 0.5 percent during the same period last year. From January to March, the sector also fell by 3.3 percent. The has set a growth rate of 2 percent for the sector for the entire 2020.

In his official response to the agriculture sector’s performance, Dar did not say if such growth target can still be met within the year, but he did say the ASF incidence in the country is already waning.

“Expectedly, the livestock sub-sector, particularly the swine industry, has pulled down our composite agri-fishery performance, due to ASF, whose incidence is already waning,” Dar said.

“In fact, several ASF-affected areas in Batangas were recently declared free from the disease, and many more will follow suit,” he added.

He also said that DA is waiting for a “favorable development” by end of August with the release of initial report on the efficacy of the ASF vaccine that the government is testing in various commercial farms in Luzon.

Among the agriculture sub-sectors, the livestock sector had the highest decline in terms of output, falling by 19.3 percent. This was followed by fisheries, which fell by 1.1 percent.

Such negative growth eclipsed the impressive performance of crops and poultry, which grew by 3.1 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, during the second quarter of the year.

And as for fisheries, Dar said the DA is now preparing countermeasures for the upcoming closed fishing season in the fourth quarter of the year by investing in aquaculture production, such as nurseries and hatcheries for bangus, tilapia, and shrimps.

He then highlighted the positive palay production during the first semester, at 8.8 million metric tons (MT), which he said was the “highest in the country’s history”. Palay output was 4.9 percent more from what was recorded during the same period in 2020.

“With this palay output, we are confident to reach our 2021 target of more than 20 million MT, barring strong typhoons in the second semester,” the DA chief said. The crops sub-sector, which contributed 56 percent to total agriculture output for Q2 2021, was particularly bannered by palay and corn, which grew by 1.2 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively.

As for poultry, Dar said he expects it “to further rebound once the economy opens up in the second semester, given the increased demand during the Christmas holidays.”