AFTER almost a decade of consecutive growth, the farm sector contracted for the first time in 2016 as successive typhoons in the last quarter of 2016 took its toll on almost all sectors of agriculture, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday.
The farm sector contracted by 1.41 percent in January-December 2016 despite the relatively low base of 0.19 percent a year earlier as the devastating effects of Typhoons Karen and Lawin and the prolonged effect of El Niño depressed crops and fisheries production, the PSA said in the report “Performance of Philippine Agriculture.”
In the fourth quarter alone, the agriculture sector contracted at a much faster rate of 1.11 percent from a decline of 0.94 in the same period in 2015.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol earlier expected the farm sector to grow as much as 5 percent in 2016, probably by 7 to 8 percent in the fourth quarter alone, banking on the supposed bumper harvest in the crops subsector.
The crops subsector, which contributes 50.98 percent to agriculture output, contracted by 2.62 percent in October to December. For the whole year of 2016, crop production decreased by 3.32 percent, according to the PSA.
The subsector grossed P268.8 billion at current prices, up 2.61 percent year-on-year.
Palay production, at 7.01 million metric tons in the last quarter, was down 3.62 percent as a result of the damage done by “Karen” and “Lawin” in the Bicol Region and Cagayan Valley.
“There were also reports of unrealized plantings in the provinces of Isabela, Misamis Oriental and Misamis Occidental as a result of inadequate irrigation water,” the PSA said.
In the Central and Eastern Visayas, excessive rainfall during the planting period reduced the area harvested to palay. There were also reports of lower use fertilizer in Central Visayas.
In the Zamboanga Peninsula rat infestation, “tungro” and red blight affected palay production.
Corn production dropped 0.15 percent to 1.73 million metric tons in the fourth quarter of 2016.
“The adverse effects of the typhoons resulted in the contraction in area harvested for corn in CAR, Cagayan Valley and Bicol Region. There were areas in Cagayan Valley that were left in fallow during the period,” the PSA noted.
Gains were attributed to banana, pineapple, abaca, peanut, cassava, sweet potato, tomato, eggplant and calamansi production.
Losses were however recorded in coconut, sugarcane, coffee, mango, tobacco, mongo, onion, cabbage and rubber production.
Livestock production expanded by 3.41 percent in the fourth quarter, and accounted for 17.85 percent of the total agriculture output. The gross value of production amounted to P74.5 billion, up 3.49 percent.
Except for goat, all subsector components registered increases and helped the subsector grew by 4.59 percent for the whole of 2016.
Accounting for 15.03 percent of total agriculture output, poultry, on the other hand, grew by 1 percent in the fourth quarter. At current prices, the subsector registered a gross output value of P51.2 billion, down 4.27 percent year-on-year.
For the whole of 2016, the subsector grew by 1.39 percent.
The fisheries subsector declined by 2.95 percent in the fourth quarter. It contributed 16.14 percent to total agriculture output. Only milkfish recorded an output increase of 5.37 percent. At current prices, the gross value of fisheries production amounted to P61.8 billion, down 1.59 percent.
The subsector recorded a 4.18 percent output drop for the full year.