The output of the country’s agriculture sector has declined further during the third quarter of the year after almost all sub-sectors, mainly livestock and crops, suffered from lower output from July to September.
But Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the Philippine government will “work harder” to help the sector achieve growth in output in the fourth quarter of the year.
The latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the value of production in agriculture and fisheries at constant 2018 prices decreased by 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2021, from a growth of 0.7 percent in the third quarter of 2020.
The sector was coming from an output decline of 1.5 percent from April to June.
From January to September, the value of production in agriculture and fisheries at constant 2018 prices went down by 2.5 percent, from a decline of 0.2 percent during the same period last year.
“This was due to the drop in crops, livestock, and fisheries production,” PSA said of the third quarter’s poor agricultural performance.
When asked for his reaction to the sector’s poor output performance, Dar only said “we will continue to do much more during the last quarter of the year”.
“The farmers and the fisherfolk are doing their best to level up production amid many challenges. We are working much harder,” Dar said in a text message.
In August, Dar assured that government efforts to help the livestock sector – which also 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.
“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 an earlier statement.
At current prices, the cost or total value of agriculture and fisheries products produced during the third quarter went up by 5.2 percent to P446.46 billion.
To be specific, crop production, which contributed 54.0 percent to the total agriculture and fisheries production, contracted by 0.2 percent. Palay production increased by 6.7 percent, while corn production declined by 18.6 percent.
At current prices, the value of crop production went up by 1.8 percent to P231.33 billion.
From January to September, the value of crop production at constant 2018 prices increased by 2.1 percent.
Meanwhile, livestock, which accounted for 15.3 percent of the total agriculture and fisheries production, recorded a 15.2-percent reduction in production. This, after hog output, the major contributor to livestock production, decreased by 17.8 percent.
At current prices, the value of livestock production amounted to P79.71 billion or 13.4 percent more this quarter.
For the first nine months of 2021, the value of livestock production at constant 2018 prices declined by 19.4 percent Fisheries, with a 16.2 percent contribution to the total agriculture and fisheries production, also fell by 0.4 percent.
This, after two-digit declines were recorded for the production of bigeye tuna (tambakol/bariles), blue crab (alimasag), frigate tuna (tulingan), yellowfin tuna (tambakol/bariles), threadfin bream (bisugo), slipmouth (sapsap), and skipjack (gulyasan) and roundscad (galunggong).
At current prices, the value of fisheries production increased by 10.9 percent to P70.30 billion.
For the period January to September 2021, the value of fisheries production at constant 2018 prices decreased by 0.5 percent.
In contrast with other sub-sectors, poultry production grew by 1.3 percent. It shared 14.6 percent in the total agriculture and fisheries production.
To be specific, the production of chicken eggs and duck eggs increased by 8.1 percent and 7.0 percent, respectively.
At current prices, the value of poultry production went up by 2.5 percent to P65.13 billion.
From January to September 2021, a 1.3-percent decline in the value of production at constant 2018 prices was recorded for poultry.
Right now, farmers are demanding of an overhaul of the agriculture sector. In a joint statement two weeks ago, several farmers’ groups demanded the next administration to “transform” the farm sector for “food security, job creation, and balanced growth”.
According to Bayanihan sa Agrikultura, Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), Alyansa Agrikultura, Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), and Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines, the farm sector suffered from transport and logistical breakdowns, aimless import liberalization, lack of health facilities to contain the COVID-19 virus spread, and poor distribution of amelioration assistance to the rural masses in the last two years.
“We demand a reversal of this situation. Agriculture can and should play a leading role in national economic recovery and, more importantly, in ensuring social and economic development for all. To achieve this, urgent policy reforms must be institutionalized and implemented with decisiveness,” the groups said.
The agriculture sector currently accounts for 30 percent of the labor force, consisting mostly of some 10 million small farmers (who own 3 hectares or less), farmworkers, forest settlers, municipal fisherfolk, and other small-scale producers.
The sector’s direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) is 10 percent.