PH agriculture on way to sustained recovery PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 19 August 2014 11:34

By CIELITO M. REGANIT

 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reported that the country’s agriculture industry is well on its way to sustained recovery after a series of calamities last year as it posted a 11.26 percent growth in terms of value and a 1.81 percent growth in terms of volume for the first half of 2014.

The growth in both value and volume for the period was a marked improvement from the first quarter growth of the year where the farming and fishing industry expanded by just 10.75 percent in terms of value and just more than half a percentage point (.67 pecent) in terms of volume.

The growth was driven mainly by resurgent palay, corn and sugarcane subsectors as well as better farm gate prices.

According to the DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), the farming and fishing industry grossed PHP 776.5 billion at current prices from January to June of this year, as compared to PHP 697.9 billion posted in the same period a year ago.

Prices received by farmers and fishers also went up by an average of 9.28 percent.

The DA said that palay, corn and sugarcane recovered from last year’s slump, boosting overall value of crops by 18.31 percent in terms of value, and 3.68 percent in terms of volume.

The crops subsector accounted for half of the total agricultural production.

BAS data showed that palay harvests reached 8.38 million metric tons during the period, 4.78 percent higher than last year’s 7.99 million metric tons.

The growth was attributed to the increase in the harvest area and yield in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and SOCCSKSARGEN.

BAS also noted that the presence of better irrigation services along with higher palay prices encouraged farmers to plant more, notably in Ilocos and Central Luzon.

Likewise, corn output grew by 4.7 percent - from 3.32 million tons to 3.48 million tons - as substantial production increases were recorded in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and SOCCSKSARGEN.

Value of corn harvests climbed to 9.17 percent, from P41.3 billion in January to June last year to PHP 45.1 billion in the first half of 2014.

According to BAS, corn farmers recovered from the 4.2 percent decline in their output in the same period last year.

It said more farmers were encouraged to plant due to high farm gate price as well as the DA’s implementation of early cropping programs for growers affected by weather disturbances which made available production assistance to farmers such as seeds and affordable loan packages.

With area expansion in Kalinga in the Cordilleras, Capiz and Cebu in the Visayas and Sultan Kudarat in southwestern Mindanao, sugarcane production grew by 5.11 percent, from 14.7 million tons in the first half of 2013 to 15.46 million tons for the same period this year.

Other crops also posted improved output, including mango (9.97 percent), cassava (10.04 percent), tomato (4.39 percent), cabbage (1.41 percent) and eggplant (1.94 percent).

In contrast, coconut output continued its slide as the industry strives to recover from the onslaught of scale insect infestation in Quezon, Batangas, Laguna and Cavite, and from the damage inflicted by typhoon Glenda on plantations in Eastern and Western Visayas.

However, in terms of value, the coconut industry grew by 42.65 percent, to PHP 50.3 billion, due to higher prices.

The animal industry, composed of the livestock and poultry subsectors, also posted output increments, growing by 0.94 percent and 0.73 percent, respectively.

Livestock, boosted by better production of dairy (3.23 percent) and hog (1.02 percent), grossed PHP118.9 billion at current prices.

This is 6.33 percent bigger than the previous year’s value of PHP111.84 billion.

At the same time, poultry expanded due to increases in chicken (2.24 percent) and duck (.50 percent) production.

On the other hand, output in the fisheries sector declined by close to 2 percent due to lower harvests of milkfish (-2.2 percent), roundscad (-1.36 percent), yellowfin tuna (-0.24 percent) and seaweed (-4.12 percent) due to the devastation wrought by Typhoon Yolanda.

The typhoon, which hit key food-producing areas in Eastern and Western Visayas in November last year, destroyed numerous fish farms and fishing boats that prevented thousands of fisherfolk to venture out to seas.

Rehabilitation efforts by the DA family have since started, involving the distribution of sturdier fishing boats, as well as high-quality replacement seeds for rice and corn farmers, and restocking of animal and fish stocks with better health support as part of the government’s build-back better strategy.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said these statistics clearly show that the agri-fishery industry is on the right track towards sustained recovery after devastation of natural calamities such as typhoon Yolanda on the farming and fishing industries.

“Tuloy-tuloy lang ang ating pagkayod para sa mabilis na pagbangon ng mga nasalanta nating kababayang magsasaka at mangingisda,” Alcala said.

“We in the DA family will not allow weather and global market challenges, or man-made adversity like intrigues, affect our work,” he said.

Earlier, during DA’s budget presentation before the House committee on appropriations on Wednesday, Alcala said the Department’s proposed PHP51.7-billion budget for 2015 will be spent to carry out initiatives meant to sustain gains in staple food production and in enhancing competitiveness of the Filipino agro-fishery products in the global arena.

Alcala explained that next year’s financial programming will focus in providing postharvest facilities and machineries such as rice threshers, combine harvesters and transplanters to help lower losses and production costs.

“These initiatives would enhance further the competitiveness of Filipino agri-fishery products for the benefit food producers and entrepreneurs, notably the smallholders,” he said.

“Sa natitirang dalawang taon sa panunungkulan, asahan po ninyo ang mas ibayong pagkilos upang itaguyod ang ating mga pangarap para sa sektor ng pagsasaka at pangingisda,” Alcala said.