DA: Q3 growth in palay production 'most notable' for agri sector

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday, November 21, said the growth in palay production was the "most notable" in the performance of the agriculture sector during the 3rd quarter of 2017.

"If you look at our palay production for the 3rd quarter, while the poultry and fisheries declined a bit, our palay production improved by 14.17%, and we're still on track with our target of satisfying the national requirements by the year 2020 using the hybridization program," Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said in a mix of English and Filipino.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, during the 3rd quarter of 2017, agriculture slowed down by 2.5% from the previous quarter's 6.3%. (READ: Philippine GDP grows faster than expected by 6.9% in Q3 2017)

Piñol attributed this "slump" to the "traditional" drop in the performance of fisheries every 3rd quarter, as well as the bird flu outbreak that was reported last August. (READ: Piñol expects bird flu outbreak to affect agri performance in Q3)

Still, the DA noted that the increase in palay production contributed to a 7.2% growth in the entire crops subsector for the first 9 months of 2017.

Piñol hopes the "bountiful harvest" of rice they are expecting for the 4th quarter will boost the agriculture sector's performance by the end of the year.

He said there is also no reason for market prices of rice to go up because of the country's abundant supply.

"There's no reason actually for an increase in the price of rice in the market, except that this could be manipulated by the cartel that controls the rice industry, because this has always been the problem, this is the problem of Philippine agriculture actually," Piñol quickly added.

On Tuesday, Piñol also explained why he prefers using the term "rice productivity" instead of "rice self-sufficiency."

"It's actually a question of semantics. Because when you say rice sufficiency, it's as if at all cost, the farmer has to produce, we don't consider the welfare of the farmer," he said in a mix of English and Filipino. 

He added: "While rice productivity means your target is to increase the production of your farmers so that they will earn more but at the same time they can supply the requirements of the country. It's more inclusive." – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.