The output of the country’s vital agriculture sector shrank by 1.7 percent in 2021 despite increased production in the last three months.
This was mainly due to the 17-percent slump in the production of the livestock sector that continues to reel from the adverse effects of the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.
In the fourth quarter of 2021 alone, agriculture output grew by a meager 0.6 percent. However, it was the first time the agriculture sector posted a gain last year and a reversal of the 3.8-percent decline in the same period in 2020.
The Department of Agriculture had an ambitious target to grow the sector by at least 2 percent in 2021 but the significant decline in livestock production proved too big to overcome, even after two years since the outbreak of the highly contagious ASF began.
Edwin Chen, president of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, said Typhoon “Odette”, the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines last year, likewise curbed their output.
Chester Warren Tan, president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., added that excessive importation pulled down the output of the livestock industry, particularly the hog subsector.
“We are not against importation but we don’t agree with overimportation or excessive imports that will flood the market. This will [discourage] domestic producers to produce more,” said Tan in a phone interview, adding that producers may incur losses once more imports enter the country.
But Tan is optimistic the livestock subsector will soon be back on growth mode as some raisers have restarted production.
Poultry output, meanwhile, dropped by 0.3 percent year-on-year in 2021 due to rising input costs.
“Yellow corn and soybean meal prices remain very high. The industry has been incurring heavy losses, especially SMEs (small and medium enterprises). There are now offers to rent out broiler farms but [there are] few takers, if at all,” said United Broiler Raisers Association president Elias Jose Inciong.
Meanwhile, the crops and fisheries subsectors gained by 2.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the country could have produced more palay or unmilled rice if not for Odette, which left over P13 billion worth of damage to the vital sector.
“We would have easily breached the 20-million ton level as Typhoon Odette damaged more than 130,000 metric tons of palay,” said Dar in a statement.
“Nonetheless, it shows that we are on the right track in our continuing efforts to increase the production of our major staples, in partnership with millions of our farmers, fishers, livestock and poultry raisers, local government units, private sector, and agri-fishery industry stakeholders,” he added.