MANILA, Philippines – Agricultural output further slowed to 0.67% in the 1st quarter of 2019, lower than the 1.80% growth rate recorded in the 4th quarter of 2018, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
The 1st quarter performance is also a drop compared to the 1.47% growth rate recorded in the 1st quarter of 2018. The latest growth rate, however, is not as slow compared to the 0.07% recorded in the 2nd quarter of 2018.
The total value of farm production for the 1st quarter of 2019 was at P429.7 billion, a drop from the P521.2 billion in the 4th quarter of 2018 and the P444 billion in the 1st quarter of 2018.
This led to lower average prices for farmers, which decreased by 3.76%.
“Lower prices were observed for crops at 5.46%, livestock at 1.49%, and poultry at 8.60%. Meanwhile, prices for fisheries went up by an average of 6.78%,” the PSA said.
Out of all the subsectors, only crops posted a drop in production growth at 1.01% despite taking up the majority of the farm production output. Gross value for crops also dropped by 6.41% year-on-year to P235.4 billion.
Rice and corn drove the subsector’s decline by 4.46% and 2.07%, respectively.
These two crops also bore the brunt of El Niño, which peaked in March and April. Before the 1st quarter ended, crop damage had already climbed to P4.35 billion. However, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the damage is not too drastic.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Andrew Villacorta told Rappler that they are not expecting any more increase in crop damage by midyear as the rainy season gets underway. (READ: El Niño to have minimal effects on inflation – NEDA)
Aside from rice and corn, other major crops such as banana, pineapple, coffee, mango, and tobacco also saw a decrease in production.
Livestock production, which ended the 1st quarter with a gross value of P75.4 billion, grew by 1.25% as higher outputs were noted from cattle, dairy, and hog production due to higher prices and demand for the first two livestock.
Poultry production went up by 5.41% due to expansion of inventories, but its gross value declined by 3.66% to P55.4 billion.
While the closed fishing season took up most of the 1st quarter, fisheries production still posted a 0.97% increase. The subsector’s gross value also went up by 7.82% to P63.5 billion from a year ago.
The DA is targeting to reach 3.5% growth in farm production for 2019, lower than the 4% target that was set for 2018. Last year’s target was missed due to heavy rains which affected production. – Rappler.com