The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday said that the country’s farm sector grew at a rate of 1.15 percent last year, falling short of its 3-percent to 5-percent target for the period.
In a report, the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said that despite series of natural catastrophes that hit the country, the agriculture sector grew 1.15 percent in January to December 2013 on the back of the strong poultry, palay (unmilled rice) and other key subsectors.
BAS also reported that the industry grew by 3.5 percent to P1.5 trillion at current prices in terms of value.
“Considering a very challenging year, this growth is significant,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said.
“It also reminds us how weather-dependent agriculture is, and therefore the need to promote and support diversification and value-adding in food processing is stronger than ever before,” he added.
Based on the report, the poultry sector grew 4.2 percent in 2013, largely from the uptick in the production of chicken that was buoyed by the increased demand for roasted chicken in key urban centers nationwide.
Chicken output expanded by 5.01 percent from 1.47 million tons to 1.55 million tons.
Livestock raisers also improved their output last year, as production increased by 1.75 percent, led by dairy (5.47 percent), followed by hog (1.95 percent) and cattle (1.76 percent).
The livestock and poultry subsectors accounted for 31 percent of total agricultural production, with a combined gross value of P407.4 billion at current prices.
For rice, the country recorded another record production last year with 18.44 million metric tons of palay harvested during the period. This is 2.26 percent higher than last year’s output of 18.03 million tons.
Growth in the sector was largely attributed to the expansion in area harvested and improvement in yield through the use of quality seeds in Central Luzon, Caraga, Soccsksargen, Bicol Region and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Lower incidence of pests and diseases also contributed to the increase in gross output,” the BAS report said.
Last year’s palay production was 8.08 percent higher than 2011’s 16.68 million tons.
Corn and other crops
Corn farmers, on the other hand, saw their output slightly decline by 0.40 percent to 7.37 million tons from 7.4 million tons in 2012, because of damages inflicted by Typhoon Gorio on corn farms in the ARMM in the second quarter of last year, and Super Typhoon Yolanda that hit the Visayas before the year ends.
Lower output was noted among growers of coconut, sugarcane, banana, coffee, abaca, peanut and calamansi.
Overall, the crops subsector, which accounted for 51.04 percent of the total agricultural output, expanded by a modest 1 percent.
The fisheries sector, on the other hand, also posted positive growth in 2013 with the increase in combined catch commercial, municipal and aquaculture operators.
In terms of value at current prices, fisheries expanded by 2.78 percent from P232.6 to P239.08 billion. This represents 17.96 percent of the total agriculture output.
“In all, these expansions in key sectors effectively cushioned the impact of the reduced harvests of other commodities as a result of typhoons that hit the country, among other factors,” BAS said.
To recall, 2013 was marked by destructive typhoons that affected key food production areas around the country, the strongest being Yolanda that slammed Eastern and Western Visayas. These areas are major producers of high-value crops such as coconut, rice and abaca.
In October, Typhoon Santi slammed Northern and Central Luzon, destroying tons of palay and other crops in its path.
Other devastating storms that hit the country last year were Labuyo, Odette and Vinta.