PHILIPPINES - Philippine agriculture grossed P386.6 billion at current prices in the first quarter of the year- or up by 10.75 per cent -- from the same period last year, disproving forecast that last year’s typhoons would drag down farm sector performance, according to the Department of Agriculture.
While the growth translated to a 0.67 per cent expansion in output, farmers and fishers, however, reaped higher profits for their work as farm gate prices increased by an average of 10.01 per cent during the period.
A Philippine Statistical Authority report said that almost all crops have registered an increase in production, with rice increasing by a respectable 3.28per cent, or 4.3 million MT from the 4.17 million MT during the same period last year.
Paddy output would have been bigger if not for the three typhoons – Santi, Vinta and Yolanda – which barrelled through rice producing areas near the end of last year.
Despite these calamities, rice production surged as a result of planting area expansion, improved irrigation services, and the provision of certified and hybrid seeds.
A replanting scheme in typhoon-hit areas, which saw government rushing production inputs, resulted in the quick turnaround of ruined farmlands.
Corn farmers likewise produced more during the period, turning out 2.3 million MT which is 1.33 per cent bigger than a year ago. This was mainly due to the expansion of planting areas in the ARMM, Northern Mindanao, SOCCSKSARGEN and Davao regions.
However, the report cited that it was vegetable growers that generated the highest growth, a staggering 91.8per cent with production support from government like quality seeds and a financial assistance like the novel Plant Now, Pay Later scheme in Nueva Vizcaya nearly doubled yields.
Other gainers in the crops subsector include: sugarcane (5.54 per cent); banana (1.86 per cent); pineapple (5.75 per cent); tobacco (4.46 per cent); monggo (2.61 per cent); cassava (11.29 per cent); and tomato (3.51 per cent).
As predicted, coconut output dipped by 6.1 per cent, but still below that what was projected, due to typhoon Yolanda’s mowing down of vast swaths of plantations in Eastern and Western Visayas, Quezon, Masbate, Romblon and Surigao del Norte.
Lower harvests were also noted in Zamboanga del Norte due to the extreme heat during fruit development, and in Batangas, Laguna and Cavite from scale insect infestation.
The coconut sector’s rebound, however, is expected to accelerate on account of a massive salt fertilization project , which has covered 640,000 hectares as of December 2013 , and the promotion of intercropping.
To replace senile trees, Philippine Coconut Authority has also planted 26.67 million new trees from 2010 to 2013.
Coffee farmers likewise harvested less in the period due to decreased yield from aging trees and shift of farmers in Cavite to pineapple, among other factors.
Livestock subsector grew by 1.2 per cent during the quarter in review, powered by the hog producers whose output expanded by 1.25per centon the back of higher demand for pork in industrial areas of Bataan and Metro Manila.
Cattle output also inched up by 0.82, and carabao by 0.10 per cent.
Similarly, poultry was on the uptrend, growing by 1.33 per cent during the period. Growth was buoyed by higher output of chicken (2.5 per cent) and duck meat (0.10 per cent).
Collectively, municipal and commercial fishers and aquaculture farmers produced 3.25 per cent less in the first three months of the year as compared to the same period in 2013.
Milkfish harvest fell by 2.11 per cent, mainly attributed to the stoppage of several marine pen operators in Davao del Sur due to heavy siltation.
Also, several fishpond and aquaculture farm operators in Iloilo and Samar were still reeling from the damage they incurred from typhoon Yolanda.
Tilapia production also suffered a slight drop of 0.14 per cent attributed to a host of reasons, including inadequate supply of fingerlings in Pangasinan and Zamboanga Peninsula, and fish kill incidence in Taal Lake.
Tiger prawn producers also suffered reduced output, by 0.43 per cent, as high water temperature, low stocking rate and bigger operating expenses caused fewer harvests in areas such as MIMAROPA.
Roundscad harvests also shrank by almost 7 percent (6.9 per cent) as a result of fewer fishing trips due to bad weather conditions in areas such as Zamboanga Peninsula, and huge number of lost or damaged boats in Yolanda-hit areas.
The Department of Agriculture, however, expects an uptick in the catch as privately- donated and government-purchased bancas are delivered by the hundreds to fishing communities.
Other losers were yellowfin tuna (2.7 per cent); seaweed (3.86 per cent) and other species, including sardines (5.7 per cent).
Only the harvest of skipjack went up by nearly 5 percent (4.62 per cent) following more sightings of skipjack in waters off SOCCSKSARGEN where the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources carried out a ban on the use of fish aggregating device.
Income of farmers and fishers were towed up by the rise in the prices of crops like palay (21.91 per cent); pineapple (21.69 per cent); abaca (14.65 per cent); garlic (213.18 per cent); coffee (4.04 per cent); and livestock and poultry (around 4 percent).
TheMeatSite News Desk