MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines yielded less agricultural goods in the 1st quarter of 2020 as the coronavirus disrupted the economy, and there are fears the situation may worsen.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday, May 6, reported agriculture output declined by 1.2% from the 0.4% growth during the same period last year.
The PSA noted that lower output in crops (-2.1%) and fisheries (-5.2%) dragged down the sector amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) mid-March.
Livestock inched up by 0.5%, while poultry jumped by 3.9% during the 1st quarter.
“What contributed to the downturn was towards the end of the 1st quarter when crops are just beginning to be harvested and the effect of [the] start of ECQ,” Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food president Danilo Fausto said.
“Except for rice, crops, fisheries, and livestock cannot reach the intended market, preventing continuing and sustained harvest of marketable crops, fish, and meat.”
Fausto urged the government to swiftly deploy at least P32 billion as a stimulus package for the sector. Otherwise, agriculture would hit “rock bottom” due to loss of demand and consumption, as well as shutdown of stores.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the fall was expected, since the 1st quarter was the start of the planting season for rice. It was also closed fishing season in major fishing grounds. (READ: William Dar aims to quadruple agri growth, double farmers’ income)
The impact of the eruption of Taal Volcano was also factored in during the period.
“We are hopeful of a rebound for the 2nd quarter, despite the impact of the coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis, as strategic interventions under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund are expected to bear fruit and closed fishing season is lifted on these rich fishing grounds,” Dar said. – Rappler.com