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‘Biggest challenge of 2021’

Agri output still affected two years since ASF outbreak

/ 04:07 AM December 30, 2021

Two years since the African swine fever (ASF) hit the Philippines, the highly contagious viral disease continues to undermine the growth of the country’s agriculture industry.

Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin Adriano said the essential sector, even assuming a zero growth rate for the livestock sector, could have registered a “positive growth rate” if not for the ASF outbreak.

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“The biggest challenge the sector has faced this 2021 was the impact of the African swine fever on our local hog industry. It really slumped,” the official said during an online media briefing.

The poultry sector, which suffered a decline due to the loss of institutional buyers, is slowly recovering.

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Offsetting performance

But Adriano said other sectors offset the bleak performance of hog and poultry sectors, with rice and crop sectors exhibiting impressive performance.

He cited estimates by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in saying the rice sector would hit the 20-million metric ton level this year.

“Amid the pandemic, people are not queuing up to purchase rice, which happened years ago,” he recalled.

Adriano said this is considered a major achievement despite transportation constraints in the delivery of rice.

“Prices of rice products did not increase and have stabilized for the last two years because of the implementation of right policies,” he said.

Boosting agri growth

He also said the country’s comparative advantage in banana, pineapple and coconut as well as the aquaculture sector are seen to bolster growth in agricultural production.

The PSA reported that agriculture output contracted by 2.6 percent in the third quarter this year, mainly due to the decline in crops, livestock and fisheries production.

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The vital sector already lost 3.3 percent in the first quarter and another 1.5 percent in the second quarter.

From January to September 2021, the value of production in agriculture and fisheries shrank by 2.5 percent.

Moving ahead, the Department of Agriculture would focus its efforts on ASF prevention and hog repopulation to revitalize the local hog sector.

Adriano said the industry has lost around 3 to 4 million hogs due to the deadly disease. INQ

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TAGS: African swine fever (ASF), Business, Pork
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