Reflective of the dry spell’s impact on the crop sector, production of palay (unmilled rice) and corn went down in the first quarter of 2019.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed palay output dropped by 4.5 percent to 4.42 million metric tons (MT) from 4.62 million MT a year ago. The figure also fell short of the revised forecast of 4.56 million MT set by the government in April.

PSA said harvest area declined by 3.5 percent to 1.15 hectares from last year’s 1.19 hectares. Likewise, yield per hectare fell to 3.83 MT from 3.87 MT a year earlier.

“Eleven regions reported reduction in production, bulk of which came from Cagayan Valley, Bicol Region and Soccsksargen. In contrast, there were increments in Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Caraga and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” PSA said. Harvest area in Cagayan Valley fell by 14.6 percent, the highest cut among the regions, the agency added.

Of the total palay production in January-March, some 78.5 percent were irrigated palay production while the remaining 21.5 percent were rainfed palay output. Irrigated palay production for the first quarter was 3.47 million MT, down 3.3 percent from last year’s 3.58 million MT. “The top producing regions were Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon with a combined share of 46.8 percent,” PSA said.

Rainfed palay output, on the other hand was 0.95 million MT, down 8.6 percent from last year’s 1.04 million MT. “Bulk of the production came from Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas and ARMM with a total share of 59.6 percent,” PSA said.

Meanwhile, the country’s corn output in the three-month period reached 2.43 million MT, down 2.1 percent from last year’s 2.48 million MT. Similarly, harvest area fell by 2.2 percent to 706.26 thousand hectares from year ago’s 722.46 thousand hectares.

In contrast, yield per hectare improved by 0.2 percent to 3.43 MT. “Cutbacks in production were large in Cagayan Valley, Bicol Region, Zamboanga Peninsula and SOCCSKSARGEN. Decrements in harvest area were also mostly shared by these regions,” PSA said. It added that yield of corn per hectare in ARMM grew by 24.5 percent to 3.66 MT from last year’s 2.94 MT.

Of the total corn production, yellow corn accounted for 81.6 percent while the remaining 18.4 percent comprised white corn output.

PSA said yellow corn output was 1.98 MT, down nearly one percent from last year’s 2 MT. The major yellow corn producing regions were Cagayan Valley, Ilocos Region and ARMM with a combined production of 62.9 percent, it added.

Meanwhile, white corn production was 0.45 million MT, down 7 percent from 0.48 MT a year ago. Major producing regions were Northern Mindanao, ARMM and Soccsksargen, contributing 55.9 percent to total white corn production.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol earlier said the overall impact of El Niño to the country’s total agricultural production would be “very minimal.” “We’re not trying to [downgrade] the effect of El Niño on agriculture but in as far as its impact on our production for rice, it’s less than one percent. For corn, it’s a little over two percent. We can cope up with it,” Piñol said.