Q1 farm output drops due to El Niño

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Philippine farm output contracted by 4.53 percent in the first quarter of 2016 as the prolonged dry spell due to El Niño and damage caused by typhoons late last year took its toll on the crops and fisheries subsectors, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday.

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Farmland in Jaen, Nueva Ecija is dried up due to drought brought by El Niño. An estimated 12,558 hectares of agricultural lands in Nueva Ecija, the country’s rice granary have been affected by the El Niño phenomenon. Photo by Mike de Juan

Farmland in Jaen, Nueva Ecija is dried up due to drought brought by El
Niño. An estimated 12,558 hectares of agricultural lands in Nueva Ecija,
the country’s rice granary have been affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
Photo by Mike de Juan

PSA also said that the gross value of agricultural production amounted to P375.2 billion at current prices in the first quarter of 2016. This was 1.49 percent lower than the previous year’s record.

“The output increments in the livestock and poultry subsectors were not enough to offset the downturn in the performance of the crops and fisheries subsectors,” the agency said.
The crops subsector, which contributed 52.06 percent of the total agricultural output, contracted by 8.55 percent.

Palay production at 3.9 million metric tons indicated a 9.97 percent contraction from last year’s volume of harvests. This was attributed to the negative effects of Typhoon “Nona” in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the impact of the dry spell in the first quarter this year on harvest areas and yield in Central Luzon.

In addition, the prolonged dry spell experienced in the regions of MIMAROPA, Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, and SOCCSKSARGEN significantly reduced the production and yield of palay farms. There were also reports of crop shifting from palay to sugarcane in Cagayan Valley.

Corn production likewise declined; the 1.9 million metric tons recorded was 19.07 percent lower this quarter.

In Nueva Vizcaya, the decline in production this quarter was due to the movement of the harvest to the second quarter with the delayed planting of white corn and the reported crop shifting to cassava and sugarcane. In addition, some yellow corn areas were left fallow due to insufficiency of water supply.

In Maguindanao, the harvest areas for corn were totally damaged and smaller corn cobs developed due to the prolonged dry spell. In Northern Mindanao and SOCCSKSARGEN provinces, reduced planting was reported due to insufficient rainfall and rat infestation.

Surprisingly, sugarcane farms registered a 0.72 percent increase in output. The main reason for this performance record was the movement of harvests from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016 with milling operations starting only in January this year in Davao del Sur.

Meanwhile, production gains were recorded by cassava, tobacco, abaca, pineapple, coffee, and mongo. The subsector grossed P211.1 billion at current prices. This represented a 3.50 percent decline from the previous year’s earnings.

The fisheries subsector came down with a 5.11 percent reduction in output. It contributed 14.92 percent to the total agricultural output. Lower production levels were noted for the major fish species. At current prices, the subsector grossed P51.9 billion, down by 5.43 percent from the last year’s earnings.

Livestock production, accounting for 17.18 percent of total agricultural output, expanded by 4.66 percent. Hog, as the main growth catalyst, had a 5.47 percent increase in production. At current prices, the subsector’s gross value of output amounted to P60.0 billion, which was 1.23 percent higher than last year’s record.

The poultry subsector grew by 1.01 percent. It recorded a 15.85 percent share in the total agricultural production. All components recorded output gains except for chicken. The subsector’s gross earnings at current prices amounted to P52.2 billion and indicated an 8.85 percent improvement this year compared to the same period last year.

On the average, farmgate prices increased by 3.19 percent in the first three months of the year. Price uptrends were observed in the crops and poultry subsectors with respective gains of 5.51 percent and 7.77 percent. On the other hand, price downtrends were recorded in the livestock subsector at 3.27 percent and in the fisheries subsector at 0.33 percent.

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