The farm sector likely posted a 2-percent growth in the first quarter of the year on the back of better crop harvest and fisheries output, according to the chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he maintained his February projection of 2-percent growth, as he wanted to remain “conservative” with his forecast figures.
“I would like to play conservative. I don’t want to be boastful,” Piñol told reporters in an interview on May 8. “I see positive growth in the agri-fisheries sector [in the first quarter], especially in the fisheries, because we see better production after the closed fishing season. I cannot definitively say the percentage of growth, but I would still maintain the projection of 2 percent,” Piñol added.
In the first quarter of 2016, farm output declined by 4.53 percent, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The PSA attributed the drop in production to the prolonged dry spell and damages caused by typhoons. The DA chief said the crops subsector would still be the main driver of the farm sector’s growth during the January-to-March period, particularly rice.
“So far, there’s positive growth [in the crops subsector], as there has been no damage to crops over the past five months, or in the survey of PSA in the first three months,” Piñol said. “There has been no damage [to crops] except for a few isolated rat infestations in Mindanao.”
Earlier, Piñol said, based on data from the Philippine Rice Information System, the local production of unmilled rice in the first quarter expanded by 5.34 percent to 4.14 million metric tons (MMT), from the 3.93 MMT recorded in the same period last year. The hike in output was attributed to favorable weather conditions and the use of high-yielding hybrid-rice seeds by farmers, Piñol added.
As for the fisheries sector, which posted a 5.11-percent output reduction in the first quarter of 2016, Piñol said the subsector could post a slight increase in production on the back of the resumption of major fishing activities following a three-month closed season.
“So far, [the production] is good. In fact, I don’t know if it will reflect in the report of the PSA, the big species of fish are now spawning back in the areas where we declared a closed fishing season. For example, tuna can now be found in the Davao Gulf after the closed fishing season,” he said.