PH agri output shrank 3.3% in Q1
The output of the country’s agriculture sector contracted by a hefty 3.3 percent in the first three months due to the significant drop in the production of the poultry and livestock subsectors that were hit by low farm prices and the viral African swine fever, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
It was a rough start for the vital economic sector that the Department of Agriculture (DA) hopes will grow by at least 2.5 percent this year.
While the decline in the first quarter was slower than the previous quarter’s 3.8 percent, it was still far worse than the 1.2-percent output decline seen in the same period last year.
The drop in the first quarter output this year was attributed primarily to the 23.2-percent shrinking of the output of the livestock sector, which accounts for 14.2 percent of the country’s total farm output.
Declines were recorded across all kinds of livestock from hogs (25.8 percent), cattle (10.2 percent), carabao (7.4 percent), to goat (6.7 percent), as well as dairy (1.5 percent).
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the poor performance of the hog industry in the first three months was “expected” as efforts to control ASF and repopulate the areas freed from the scourge of the disease “are yet to bear fruit.”
Poultry production likewise shrank in the first quarter but by a smaller 7.4 percent. Chicken and duck production both declined by 11 percent, while chicken and duck eggs increased by 3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively, on the back of better prices.
Meanwhile, the output of the crops subsector, which contributes 59 percent of the country’s total agricultural output, rose by 3.3 percent due to favorable weather and higher farm gate prices.
Major crops such as palay, corn, coffee, and cacao all recorded favorable outputs, while potato, abaca, and onion recorded double-digit declines.
Lack of tourists
As for fisheries, production slightly grew by 0.6 percent. Catch of luxury seafood items such as yellowfin and grouper declined as demand for these variants remained low because of the lack of tourists willing to pay more for these varieties.
Dar assured the public that the DA was working toward shoring up the sector’s output and contribute to the rebound of the economy battered by COVID-19-induced quarantine restrictions.
“We will continue to implement our ‘Plant, Plant, Plant’ program that is mainly focused on increasing our basic food commodities like rice, corn, vegetables, livestock, poultry, and fisheries—comprising more than 70 percent of our agricultural [output],” he added. INQ
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