Agri sector shows lackluster Jan-Mar performance
The significant strides made by the poultry industry failed to boost the overall farm output as the agriculture sector suffered a slight contraction in the first three months of the year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The agency said that agricultural production in the first quarter dropped by 0.3 percent compared to the 3.4-percent decrease during the same period a year ago.
This brings the value of agriculture to P498.61 billion, up by 2.1 percent from P488.32 billion year-on-year.
Except for poultry, all subsectors incurred single-digit declines.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar described fisheries as the “Achilles’ heel” for the quarter as it posted the highest contraction of 5.8 percent.
Crops slipped by 1.6-percent, reeling from spiraling prices of fuel and fertilizer aggravated by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“This could be the initial effects of high fertilizer and production costs, as farmers cut down on input usage which lead to lower yield,” said Federation of Free Farmers national manager Raul Montemayor in a Viber message.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it already amassed P4 billion to provide fertilizer subsidies to farmers for wet season planting even as it lobbies for additional budgetary support of P6 billion for this initiative.
“Based on our studies, if we do not provide a subsidy, there is possibility the production level will go down and this will be a big setback,” said Dar during the webinar organized by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines.
“We believe that the second quarter will be better for the rice industry as this will be when most of the additional outputs will come. We will continue to really support the giving of these agricultural inputs,” he added.
The livestock subsector declined by 1 percent, a reversal from the significant reduction in output recorded in the previous quarters. Only the poultry subsector grew by 12.3 percent during the period.
Roehlano Briones, a senior research fellow at state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said many hog raisers remain pessimistic about rebuilding their stocks despite the DA’s efforts to boost inventories.
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