The Department of Agriculture (DA) has already given up on its ambitious growth target of 2 percent for the agriculture sector, but it has remained hopeful that the sector could still pull off a growth of at least below 1 percent following four consecutive quarters of decline.
In a briefing, DA Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and Research Fermin Adriano told reporters on Tuesday that the government is hopeful that the agriculture sector will recover during the fourth quarter of the year, as farmers for crops and vegetables began planting again after being hit by a series of typhoons over the last months.
"There might be some difficulty in meeting the target of 2 percent but there might be a recovery," Adriano said. "We also expect that there will be an upswing in demand , which will encourage farmers to plant and keep on producing".
Adriano said the recovery will be "modest" or a full-year growth of below 1 percent.
If achieved, this will be the first time in four quarters the agriculture sector will register a growth.
On Monday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the Philippines’ agriculture sector fell significantly by 2.6 percent during the third quarter of the year, compared to a growth of 0.7 percent registered in the same period last year.
Compared to April to June period where the sector only fell by 1.5 percent, the latest figures also showed a larger decline. Prior to that, the sector fell by 1.2 percent during the first quarter of the year.
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.
PSA attributed the recent decline to the drop in crops, livestock, and fisheries production. Livestock, in particular, heavily dragged the performance of the country’s agriculture sector after registering a decline of 15.2 percent in output.
Accounting for 15.3 percent of the total agriculture and fisheries production, livestock carried the weight of lower hog output, which went down by 17.8 percent due to the continuous spread of African Swine Fever (ASF).
For the first nine months of 2021, the value of livestock production at constant 2018 prices declined by 19.4 percent Fermin said “it’s definitely hard to control” ASF and the DA “couldn’t do it alone”.
For his part, DA Undersecretary-designate for Livestock William Medrano said the livestock sector might recover only early next year amid the P4.1-billion budget given to DA’s swine repopulation program.
In August, Dar already made a promise that government efforts to help the livestock sector recover from 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.
Aside from livestock, crop production, which contributed 54.0 percent to the total agriculture and fisheries production, also contracted by 0.2 percent, after 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.
Fisheries, with a 16.2 percent contribution to the total agriculture and fisheries production, also fell by 0.4 percent.