Farm H1 output up 1.8% on higher prices

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The Philippines’ agriculture sector output grew 1.8 percent in the first half of 2014, boosted by higher farmgate prices during the period, which encouraged more farmers to plant, and an early cropping program for growers affected by weather disturbances, the government said.

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In a report released on Friday, the PSA-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics said that the farm sector grossed P776.5 billion at current prices in the January to June period.

The crops subsector, which contributed 52.72 percent to the total farm production, expanded by 3.68 percent from last year, led by palay, corn, sugarcane, banana and tobacco. At current prices, the subsector’s gross value amounted to P443.9 billion, up by 18.31 percent from last year’s level.

Palay recovered from last year’s slump, posting a 4.78 percent increase to 8.38 million metric tons in the first half of 2014 from 7.99 million MT a year ago. This was attributed to an expansion in harvested area and yield improvement in major rice producing areas, including Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and the SOCCSKSARGEN region.

Despite the positive production figures, the PSA also reported Friday that rice supplies in the country were approaching critical levels, with stocks in National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses dwindling to a 13-day supply, well below the 30-day buffer stock mandated by law. (see related story on p. A1)

Corn production was pegged at 3.48 million MT, a 4.70 percent increase from last year’s 3.32 million MT. Substantial increases in production were noted in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Ilocos Region, Davao Region and CARAGA.

Production in the livestock subsector improved by 0.94 percent. It accounted for 15.39 percent of the total agricultural output. Hog and dairy recorded higher output increments during the period. Gross earnings of the subsector amounted to P118.9 billion at current prices, or a 6.33 percent increase from last year.

The poultry subsector, accounting for 14.44 percent of the total agricultural output, posted a 0.73 percent production increase. Gross value of the output stood at P91.7 billion at current prices, or 5.91 percent higher than last year’s level.

However, the fisheries subsector contracted by 1.90 percent as devastation brought by super typhoon Yolanda took its toll in commercial and municipal fishers in the Visayas. The subsector contributed 17.45 percent to the total agricultural production, grossing P122.0 billion.

On average, prices received by farmers rose by 9.28 percent in the first half of this year. Prices in the crops subsector increased by an average 14.11 percent. The livestock and poultry subsectors recorded average price gains of 5.34 percent and 5.15 percent, respectively. Prices in the fisheries subsector inched up by an average of 0.06 percent this year.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the substantial increase in crop production can be attributed to higher farmgate prices during the period, which encouraged more farmers to plant.

Alcala also cited the DA’s implementation of an early cropping program for growers affected by weather disturbances that made available production assistance such as seeds and affordable loan packages.

“These statistics clearly show that the agri-fishery industry is on the right track toward sustained recovery after the devastation of natural calamities such as typhoon Yolanda on the farming and fishing industries,” the DA chief said.

“We in the DA family will not allow weather and global market challenges, or man-made adversity like intrigues, affect our work,” he added.

For next year, the DA proposed a P51.7 billion budget to be used to carry out initiatives meant to sustain gains in staple food production and in enhancing competitiveness of the Filipino agro fishery products in the global arena.

Alcala explained that next year’s financial programming will focus on providing post-harvest facilities and machineries such as rice threshers, combine harvesters and transplanters to help lower losses and production costs, and enhance the competitiveness of Filipino agri-fishery products for the benefit food producers and entrepreneurs, notably the smallholder ones.

“Sa natitirang dalawang taon sa panunungkulan, asahan po ninyo ang mas ibayong pagkilos upang itaguyod ang ating mga pangarap para sa sektor ng pagsasaka at pangingisda (In the remaining two years of office, expect to see more action to advance our vision for the agriculture and fishery sectors),” he said.

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