Rice output growth falls short of targets
Unfavorable weather conditions pulled the agriculture sector’s growth rate in 2018 down to 0.56 percent—way below the targets set by the Duterte administration and the Department of Agriculture (DA).
DA targeted an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent, while economic managers had asked the agency to maintain a growth rate of at least 2 percent yearly.
Philippine Statistics Authority data showed that of the four agricultural subsectors, only livestock and poultry were able to post growth at 1.89 percent and 5.75 percent, respectively. The crops and fisheries subsectors fell by 0.98 percent and 1.13 percent.
Nonetheless, the gross value of the sector’s output at current prices hit P521.2 billion, up 4.05 percent from the previous year’s level.
The series of typhoons that hit the country last year pulled down palay output by 2.2 percent, leading to a significant drop in the overall growth of the sector.
The poultry and livestock sectors benefited from higher prices and output last year. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said they were banking on these subsectors to lift the industry this year.
Meanwhile, the fisheries segment remained the sector’s weakest link. Since 2014, the industry has yet to post a positive growth. Piñol said he had instructed regional offices to establish fish cages all over the country to boost fish production by 28,000 metric tons.
“It was a challenging year for agriculture and we attribute that to the almost monthly tropical disturbances and typhoons punctuated by supertyphoon Ompong, which really affected agricultural production,” the secretary said.
“We expect 2019 to be a better year especially for crops. We are banking on the RCEF (Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund) and the release of the coco levy funds for agriculture to be able to bounce back in 2019,” he added.
The release of RCEF, an annual P10-billion subsidy for the development of the rice industry, remains in limbo since President Duterte has yet to sign into law the rice tariffication bill.
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