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Storm-lashed 2018 dampens farm output, growth falls to 1%

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farmer rice field
PHILIPPINE STAR/EDD GUMBAN

AGRICULTURE output rose 1% in 2018, dampened by storms that damaged farmland and fisheries, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.

“Philippine agriculture and fisheries were hobbled with a mere 1% growth in 2018 as a super typhoon and 12 more tropical storms battered the country almost every month of the year destroying 1.8 million metric tons of crops with an estimated value of P36 billion,” Emmanuel F. Piñol Agriculture Secretary said in a Facebook post.

“A review of the performance of the sector during the Management Council (MANCOM) meeting yesterday in Tanza, Cavite showed that the Department of Agriculture (DA) missed most of its target production levels for the year, except for poultry which exceeded growth projections,” Mr. Piñol added.

According to Mr. Piñol, rice production in 2018 amounted to 19.1 million metric tons (MT), missing the 19.4 million MT target by 1.54%. It also fell 170,000 MT from the year-earlier total.

Corn, meanwhile, lost about P10 billion worth of production, Mr. Piñol said.

“The 2018 Agri-Fisheries Performance paled in comparison to the vigorous 3.9% growth posted by the sector achieved by the Duterte Administration in 2017, a year with fairly good climate and fewer typhoons,” Mr. Piñol said.

“In contrast, 2018 opened with Tropical Storm Agaton in January, Tropical Depression Basyang in February, Domeng in June, Henry, Inday and Josie in July, Karding in August, Super Typhoon Ompong in September, Rosita in October, Samuel in November and the year-ender Tropical Depression Usman towards the end of December,” he added.

The MANCOM, meanwhile, identified five key areas of focus for funding in the agriculture sector to support a new growth outlook of 2.5% to 3.5%.

These are: 13,000 kilometers of farm-to-market roads, solar-powered irrigation projects (SPIP) covering 500,000 hectares over the next three years, post-harvest facilities to minimize losses and boost productivity; investments in logistics and transportation facilities especially for the movement of goods from the remote regions to urban centers, and greater focus on the Easy Access Credit Program.

“The MANCOM identified the key focus areas for 2019 and set a growth target of between 2.5% to 3.5% for the year,” Mr. Piñol said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is scheduled to release its data for gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2018 on Jan. 24. Farm data output for the year is usually published days prior to publishing of GDP data. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio