By Janina C. Lim

GROWTH of farm production eased last quarter from the preceding three months and a year ago as crops’ and livestock’s slower annual expansion and a smaller fisheries output offset an acceleration in poultry’s increase, according to data the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released on Wednesday.

Agriculture output growth slows

Value of farm output growth slowed to 2.32% last quarter from 3.0% a year ago that was revised slightly upward from a preliminary 2.98% estimate.

Third-quarter growth was also the slowest in three quarters, with the first and the second quarters clocking 5.28% and 6.18%, respectively, while 2016’s fourth quarter saw a 1.11% contraction.

By sub-sector:

• crops — which accounted for 46.89% of the total value of farm output last quarter — grew by 5.18%, slower than the year-ago 5.22%;

• livestock — which contributed 18.37% — edged up a nearly flat 0.91% compared to the year-ago 4.03%;

• poultry — which contributed 17.34% — picked up by 3.41% from 2.52%;

• while fisheries — which made up 17.39% — fell by 4.27%, steeper than the past year’s -2.58%.

Rolando T. Dy, executive director of the University of Asia & the Pacific’s Center for Food and AgriBusiness, said the crops sub-sector remained a key driver notwithstanding a weaker year-on-year performance.

“Rice remained robust, but corn production turned negative from high positive,” Mr. Dy said in an e-mail on Wednesday.

In terms of volume of production, palay — which had the single biggest commodity contribution to total value of farm output at 17.01% — increased by 14.17% (compared to the year-ago 16.35%) to 3.39 million metric tons (MT) from 2.97 million MT in 2016’s comparable three months. “This was attributed to the increase in harvest areas because of early occurrence of rains and availability of water during the planting period in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Western Visayas and Soccskargen (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City),” the PSA report read.

Corn, however, which had the fourth-biggest contribution to total value at 8.83%, fell 2.74% (compared to the year-ago 10.61% growth) to 2.59 million MT from 2.662 million MT a year ago.

Hogs, which had the second-biggest commodity contribution in value terms at 15.35%, edged up 0.91% (compared to 4.54% a year ago) to 527,600 MT from 522,840 MT.

Chicken, which had the third-biggest value contribution at 13.27%, grew 2.52% (from the year-ago 1.89%) to 411,060 MT from 400,950 MT.

Total value of agricultural production grew by 4.64% in the nine months to September, a turnaround from the 1.51% contraction in 2016’s comparable period, against an official 6-7% full-year target.

The farm sector generates about a fourth of the country’s jobs but contributes just a tenth to gross domestic product. PSA is scheduled to report official third-quarter PSA data today.