DA to protect areas least affected by El Niño

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After the agriculture sector performed poorly last year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday said it would focus more on the subsectors least affected by El Niño to boost farm output.

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In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said more attention would be given to livestock and poultry production, the two subsectors not prone to the effects of a prolonged dry spell.

“All components of the subsector recorded increases during the last quarter, when the other subsectors’ production dipped. That is why we will focus on this and other sectors that are not as prone to the effects of inclement weather,” Alcala said.

On Thursday, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported the country’s farm output contracted by nearly 1 percent in the last quarter of 2015 due to the severe dry spell and a strong typhoon that damaged major production areas nationwide.

Livestock production during the fourth quarter expanded by 3.72 percent, contributing 17.07 percent to total output.

All components of the subsector recorded increases during the period. The hog subsector, a major contributor to the subsector’s output, recorded a 4.21 percent growth.

On the other hand, poultry production, which accounted for 14.72 percent of the total agriculture output, was up 4.17 percent in the fourth quarter.

Gross value of production totaled P53.4 billion at current prices, representing a 2.98- percent increase year-on-year. For 2015, the subsector’s output expanded by 5.74 percent.

“With more interventions for the livestock and poultry subsectors, coupled with the expected increase in palay and corn production in the first half of 2016, we expect the
agriculture sector to bounce back strong,” Alcala said.

Weather bureau Pagasa has warned that El Niño would intensify in the last quarter of 2015 and into the first half of 2016.

Drought is defined as three consecutive months of way below-normal rainfall condition or 60-percent reduction from average rainfall, while a dry spell is defined as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, or a 21-60-percent reduction in average rainfall.

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