THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday that it is expecting livestock production to rise this year even with El Niño putting pressure on animal feed production.

Agriculture Undersecretary Deogracias Victor B. Savellano told reporters that the DA is “positive” that production will increase because a number of programs are in place to address any possible challenges, providing growers with biologics, animal feed, and medicine.

Last year, livestock output rose 2.5%, against a 1.9% rise reported in 2022, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Hog output is expected to grow (3.7%), as is that of goat (1.3%). Lower production is expected for cattle (-2.6%) and carabao -0.9%).

The DA has set a goal of growing livestock production by five times over the next five years, in a bid to minimize imports.

He added that the government will continue to extend aid to livestock growers.

Jonathan V. Sabiniano, program director for the National Livestock Program said El Niño has affected the production of animal feed.

The government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), has said that El Niño is currently weakening, though its effects are projected to be felt until August.

“(There is) changing climate and changing landscape… agricultural areas are now shrinking. We have less space now for livestock raising as well as decreasing soil fertility (for) feed and forage,” Mr. Sabiniano added.

As of April 30, agricultural damage from El Niño was estimated at P5.9 billion by the DA. Damage to corn, a major component of animal feed amounted to P1.76 billion, with total volume losses of 97,937 metric tons (MT).

Yellow corn, which makes up about 50% of animal feed, posted output growth of 2% to 2.08 million MT during the first quarter, according to the PSA. — Adrian H. Halili