By Vincent Mariel P. Galang
FARM OUTPUT grew by its fastest clip in more than two years in the third quarter, as increments in most subsectors offset a drop for palay which accounted for 15% of total value of production, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday.
The PSA said that value of agricultural output, which contributes about a tenth to gross domestic product and a fourth of the country’s jobs, grew 2.87% year-on-year in the third quarter, turning around from contractions of 0.87% a year ago and 1.27% in the second quarter.
It was agriculture’s best performance since a 6.2% growth recorded in 2017’s second quarter and the best third-quarter performance since the three percent posted in 2016.
Third quarter growth pushed up agriculture’s year-to-date performance to 0.77%, compared to the 0.14% increment in 2018’s comparable nine months.
That compared to the 2.5-3.5% target range for farm output growth under the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan.
“I think it is a very good start for a new administration [at the Agriculture department] and for new policies that affects agriculture sectors, considering that this is third quarter — usually we have the lowest output for rice seasonally,” University of the Philippines School of Economics Professor Ramon L. Clarete said in a telephone interview.
Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement: “We were expecting between 2-2.5%. This shows that the farmers and the fishers are showing resilient performance with the programs and projects of the DA (Department of Agriculture).
Crops, which accounted for 45.19% of total farm output, grew 2.01% in value last quarter but still slipped 1.64% year-to-date.
Volume of palay output fell 4.53% to 3.051 million metric tons (MMT) in the third quarter and by 4.94%to 11.321 MMT year-to-date, while that of corn production grew 23.47% to 2.723 MMT last quarter and by 5.94% to 6.321 MMT year-to-date.
“Corn was actually quite surprising,” Philippine Institute for Development Studies Research Fellow Roehlano M. Briones said when sought for comment, adding that “farmers are moving out of palay, so I think that accounts for the (palay) contraction…”
The PSA attributed the drop in palay production “to the substantial reduction in harvested areas in Western Visayas and SOCCSKSARGEN (South Cotabato-Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos City in south-central Mindanao) due to insufficient water supply.”
“The same reason was cited for decreases in harvested areas in CALABARZON (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon), MIMAROPA (Occidental and Oriental Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan), Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula and Caraga,” the report added.
The other farm subsectors grew.
Livestock production, which contributed 18.67%, grew 1.63% last quarter and 2.04% year-to-date. Hog output, which accounted for 15.74% of total farm production, edged up 1.96% last quarter and 2.54% year-to-date.
Poultry output, which contributed 19.44% to the total, went up 8.41% last quarter and 5.91% year-to-date. Chicken production, which accounted for 14.72% of total farm output, increased by 8.48% last quarter and 5.25% year-to-date.
Fisheries, which contributed 16.7%, edged up by 0.56% last quarter and 1.4% year-to-date.