PHILIPPINE AGRICULTURAL output contracted by 1.7% in 2021, despite growing by 0.6% in the last three months, the statistics agency said on Wednesday.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the full-year value of production in agriculture and fisheries worsened from the 1.2% decline recorded in 2020 and missed the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) 2% growth target.
This was also the steepest annual contraction of agricultural production on record since 2001. The PSA said it has no data using constant 2018 prices before 2001.
In the fourth quarter, agricultural output inched up by 0.6% after four straight months of contraction. This was a turnaround from the 3.8% drop recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The PSA attributed this growth to higher production in crops, poultry and fisheries, which offset the continued decline in livestock.
“At current prices, the value of production in agriculture and fisheries is at P560.39 billion,” the PSA said.
Agriculture typically makes up about 10% of economic output, and a fourth of the country’s jobs. Fourth-quarter and full-year gross domestic product (GDP) data will be released today (Jan. 27).
Despite the annual decline, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the latest data “show we are on the right track in our continuing efforts to increase the production of our major staples.”
He said the coronavirus pandemic, mobility restrictions and typhoons were the biggest challenges the agriculture sector faced in 2021.
Damage to agriculture caused by Typhoon Odette reached P13.3 billion, according to the DA’s final tally.
“Even without Typhoon Odette, agriculture would still have ended up with a negative growth rate in constant 2018 prices,” Federation of Free Farmers Cooperatives, Inc. (FFFCI) national manager Raul Q. Montemayor said in a Viber message.
Crop production expanded by 2.6% in the fourth quarter, a reversal from the 0.3% drop in the same quarter in 2020. It accounted for about 60% of the agricultural production during the three-month period.
For the full year, crop output grew by 2.3%, higher than 1.5% in 2020.
“The crop sector improved a little bit, but the gain was more than offset by the decline in gross value added (GVA) of the livestock, principally the hog sector, despite an improvement in market prices,” Mr. Montemayor said.
Fourth-quarter palay production value inched up by 0.2%, while corn output surged by 28.6%. Cacao, coconut and tobacco production also rose by 11.4%, 3.6% and 3.4%, respectively.
However, production declines were seen for onion (13.1%), abaca (11.6%), potato (8.7%) and coffee (6%).
“Production was still a challenge because of the weather disturbances. Vegetable areas are more difficult to access, or farmers encounter problems of bringing their produce to the market because of bad road conditions during heavy rains,” Pampanga State Agricultural University Professor Roy S. Kempis said in a Viber interview.
Total annual palay production volume reached an all-time high of 19.96 million metric tons in 2021, 3.4% higher than a year earlier.
“We would have easily breached the 20-million-ton level as Typhoon Odette damaged more than 130,000 metric tons of palay,” Mr. Dar said.
ASF OUTBREAK CONTINUES
Livestock production slumped by 9.7% in the fourth quarter, amid an African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak. For the full year, livestock output plummeted by 17%, worse than the 7.4% decline in 2020.
“We are surprised to hear about a 17% decline. There have been fewer cases of African Swine Fever, as pronounced by DA that they have controlled it and most recent sporadic cases are in backyard farms,” National Federation of Hog Farmers, Inc. (NFHFI) President Chester Warren Y. Tan said in a Viber interview.
Hogs, a major contributor to livestock output, fell by 12.6% in October to December, and by 20.8% for the entire year.
“Farmgate prices have been steady about P190 to P210 per kilogram in Luzon. There seems no reason why swine farmers would decrease their production especially if this is a source of livelihood for many backyard farmers,” Mr. Tan said.
Meanwhile, poultry output contracted by 0.3% in 2021 despite a 2.7% growth in the fourth quarter. Chicken egg production grew by 12.7% in the three months to December, while lower production was seen for duck (-13.3%), duck eggs (-8.6%) and chicken (-0.3%).
“Full-year growth in poultry was basically flat. Output during the first three quarters of 2021 was already 2.5% lower than in 2020 and it was impossible for the fourth quarter to offset this,” Mr. Montemayor said.
Fishery production rose by 1.4% in the fourth quarter and by 0.1% for the entire year. This was attributed to double-digit growth in blue crab (33.1%), tilapia (17.8%) cavalla or talakitok (15.9%), mudcrab or alimango (15.1%), grouper or lapu-lapu (13.8%), and roundscad or galunggong (11.2%).
However, lower production was recorded for skipjack (20.5%), seaweed (0.3%) and yellowfin tuna (10.7%). — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson