PH’s agriculture output down in Q1

May 7 ------ The Philippines’ agriculture sector produced less yield in the first three months of the year or just as the entire country began bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. A data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the agriculture sector went down by 1.2 percent in the first quarter of this year on the weight of lower output both in crops and fisheries. As a result, prices inched up, pushing the value of agricultural production to P441.2 billion, up by 3.4 percent from the previous year’s level. Crop production, which accounted for 54.9 percent of the total agricultural output, decreased by 2.1 percent during the quarter. Palay and corn production went down by 3.6 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, the PSA data showed. Fisheries, which contributed 12.8 percent to the total agricultural production, also dropped by 5.2 percent during the first quarter of 2020. This, as most of the major species recorded lower production levels. Meanwhile, livestock and poultry both recorded increases in production. Livestock, for instance, inched up by 0.5 percent in output from January to March. It shared 17.9 percent to the total agricultural production. Hog production particularly grew by 0.7 percent. Production of poultry, on the other hand, was 3.9 percent higher in the first three months of the year. It contributed 14.3 percent to the total agricultural output. In March, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he has remained positive that the sector he has been trying to save from further decline could still pull off a 4 percent annual growth in three years. This, while local rice productivity is still under threat from the influx of imported rice, the country’s hog population is falling day by day due to African Swine Fever (ASF), and the spread of COVID-19 is now affecting the country’s food supply chain and agriculture exports. For this year alone, Dar is positive about achieving a progressive annual growth rate of 2 percent for the sector. This should increase to 3 and 4 percent in the following years, he said. “It will be a tall order, mainly due to natural and man-made calamities that will impact on the production of rice, corn, vegetables, major crops, swine, poultry and fishery products, but we are confident we could attain such modest growth rates in the next three years,” said Dar. Source: