EXPORTS of agricultural and fisheries products rose 12% to $1.31 billion in the first quarter, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said, citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
“This is a complete opposite of the total Philippine exports during the period, which dropped by 5.16% to $25.73 billion,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said.
The largest agri-fishery export earners were banana, coconut oil, canned tuna, fresh or dried pineapples, desiccated coconut, other prepared fruits such as banana chips, carrageenan, prepared or preserved pineapples, and other cigarettes containing tobacco.
Banana was the top farm export commodity in terms of value, at over $489 million shipped out during the first quarter, followed by coconut oil, which rose 5.4% year on year to $232 million.
“Banana shipments bounced back from pre-enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) levels, although with minimal growth at 1.74%, due to the increase in buying prices of the fruit bound for China,” the DA said.
Exports of shrimp and prawn fell 17.2% to $77 million.
The DA said the agri-fishery sector was unaffected by the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during the period, as the enhanced community quarantine was only enforced during the last two weeks of the first quarter.
“The country’s major trading partners like Japan, China, South Korea and the European Union had not yet imposed import restriction policies at that time,” the DA said.
The DA said that it will push agriculture exports in the following months as it views the sector as a vital foreign exchange earner with the ability to provide employment to a large portion of the population.
“Agri-fishery exports will continue to play a major part as the country progresses to the “new normal” on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave