The country’s agricultural output in the first quarter of 2017 posted a 5.28-percent growth, rebounding from a dismal performance caused by El Niño in the same period last year, according to the latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
All the agricultural subsectors’ output during the January-to- March period, the PSA said, posted increment, with the crops subsector remaining to be the main driver for farm growth.
“Production in the crops subsector went up by 8.28 percent during the reference quarter. It contributed 53.66 percent to the total agricultural production,” the PSA said in its report titled Performance of Philippine Agriculture, published on May 15.
The 5.28-percent growth in farm output in the first quarter of 2017 comes after the sector posted 4.53-percent decline in production during the same time period last year due to prolonged dry spell, coupled with the damage caused by Typhoons Lando and Nona.
The decline in agricultural output in the first quarter of 2016 was also brought about by the downturn in the performance of the crops and fisheries subsectors, which was caused by the damage brought about by the prolonged dry spell and the two typhoons that hit the country in late-2015.
Palay production in the first three months of 2017 expanded 12.38 million metric tons to 4.42 MMT, from 3.93 MMT output recorded a year ago. The PSA attributed the hike in output to the increase in areas planted with rice during the quarter and the availability of water for irrigation farms and sufficiency of rainfall in both rain fed and upland farms.
“In addition, higher yield level was observed in most regions, and this was brought about by the usage of high yielding varieties. Likewise, proper fertilizer application and favorable weather conditions pushed up production of palay during the first quarter of the year,” the PSA said.
“There were also reports of increased plantings as encouraged by the provision of hybrid and certified seeds from the Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Offices (DA-RFOs). Early harvesting or movement of the activity from the scheduled second quarter to the first quarter this year was cited in some farms in ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao], Ilocos region, CAR [Cordillera Autonomous Region] and Eastern Visayas,” the PSA added.
Data from the PSA showed that this was the highest first quarter that palay output registered by the Philippines since 1987, surpassing the previous first quarter-high output of 4.367 MMT production recorded in 2015.
Expanded planting areas driven by favorable planting conditions hiked corn output in the January-to-March period by 23.44 percent to 2.37 MMT, from 1.92 MMT recorded same time period in 2016.
“The higher production record during the period can be traced to the expansion in area harvested, as a result of increased plantings induced by the following factors: sufficiency of water, higher demand for white corn in Ilocos region and additional provision of quality seeds from the DA-local government units [DA-LGUs],” the PSA said.
“There were also reports of movement of harvests from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the first quarter this year because of infestation of corn leafhoppers in Sultan Kudarat. Significantly, yield improved due to favorable weather conditions, usage of good quality seeds provided by the DA-LGUs and sufficient soil moisture during the growing stage of the crop,” the PSA added.
Sufficiency in rainfall during the first quarter drove the production of other crops, such as banana, sugarcane and pineapple, to increase. Pineapple output in the January-to-March period grew 3.77 percent, while sugarcane production and banana production rose 3.03 percent and 2.56 percent respectively.
However, the country’s coconut production in the first quarter declined 2.31 percent from 3.20 MMT a year ago to 3.12 MMT, due to lesser nuts developed in Davao Del Sur and Sultan Kudarat caused by the effects of dry spell last year.
“In Basilan some trees were cut down due to the occurrence of “cocolisap” during the period,” the PSA said.
Meanwhile, the production of the livestock subsector, which accounted for 16.85 percent of total agricultural output in the first quarter, expanded by 3.22 percent.
“All components of the subsector recorded production increases. Hog, the major contributor to the subsector’s performance registered a 3.50-percent growth in production,” the PSA said.
Also, the fisheries and poultry subsectors’ output posted 0.73 percent and 1.88 percent, respectively. The PSA noted that all components of the poultry subsector posted increments during the quarter. The poultry subsector contributed 14.15 percent to the total agricultural output in the first quarter.
Increased production in skipjack, yellowfin tuna, tilapia and seaweed boosted the fisheries subsector’s output in the quarter, overturning the 6.07-percent output decline posted a year ago.
“Production increases were noted for skipjack at 43.10 percent, yellowfin tuna at 17.32 percent, tilapia at 2.08 percent and seaweed at 1.26 percent,” the PSA said. The fisheries subsector accounted for 14.15 percent of the total agricultural output in the January-to-March period.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the “good climate” and “favorable weather conditions” allowed Filipino farmers to hike their output during the first three months of 2017.
“It is also an indication that we are on the right track in agri and fisheries development. But a lot more needs to be done. With the implementation of easy access financing, agri and fisheries productivity could be further boosted,” Piñol said in a statement released to reporters on Monday.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Operations Ariel T. Cayanan said the farm sector’s output in the second quarter could likely grow around 5 percent.
“It seems that [it will continue to grow] based on the growth parameters. We hope that the favorable weather conditions would continue and we could achieve our goals,” Cayanan said in an interview with reporters on Monday.
“Actually, the second quarter is nearing its end this coming June. We are expecting a [rice] yield of [approximately] 4 million [MT]. So it looks that the growth would also be proportionate [in the second quarter], it could play around the same percent [as first quarter],” Cayanan added.