Philippine farm growth seen higher this year

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Growth in the Philippine farm sector this year will likely top last year’s record because of favorable weather and major improvements in the fisheries subsector, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said over the weekend.

“We are expecting a major boost in our farm sector this year, because of the gains being recorded in various areas, particularly in the fisheries sector,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said.

He noted that the prevailing fair weather condition remains one of the key factors in continuing growth in farm output.

“The weather is very cooperative,” he said, adding that no major typhoon has hit the country during the first half of the year.

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In 2012, agriculture grew by 2.92 percent from 2.34 percent in 2011. The major contributors during the period were the crops, livestock and poultry subsectors.

However, the 2012 farm output was still slightly lower than the 3-percent to 5-percent target as a result of contraction in the fisheries subsector. Alcala expressed confidence that fisheries will bounce back even higher this year, citing first-quarter figures. In January to March 2013, the fisheries sector posted a 5.6-percent growth rate, from a contraction of 3.5 percent during the same period in 2012.

He said that they were surprised with the results of the interventions implemented by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, saying that they were able to reverse the two consecutive years of slump in fishery production earlier than expected.

“The fisheries sector posted higher than expected numbers during the first quarter, and we expect this continue for the rest of the year,” he said.

This was attributed to higher production of culture fish such as tilapia, milkfish and round scad following the imposition of the fishing ban in the Zamboanga and Visayas seas. Also, tuna production is expected to bounce back strong this year, with Filipino tuna fishing vessels now operating to the so-called High Seas Pocket 1.

For crops, Alcala said that palay (unmilled rice) and corn would continue to post record production, despite the movement of cropping schedules in the first quarter of 2013 due to the reported El Niño phenomenon.

Despite the dry spell that hit several major rice producing provinces, the country’s palay production is still expected to increase by 2 percent in January to June 2013, from 7.892 million metric tons a year ago.

“We are also recording record production figures in corn,” Alcala said.

The agriculture department expects to release the official first semester agriculture performance in August.

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