Farm sector grows 0.5%; 2020 target revised downward

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star
Farm sector grows 0.5%; 2020 target revised downward
This is a reversal of the 1.4 percent contraction in the same period last year.
Philstar.com / John Unson

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine agriculture sector managed to pull off 0.5 percent growth in the second quarter despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is a reversal of the 1.4 percent contraction in the same period last year.

First semester performance, however, declined by 0.6 percent.

“We got a creditable second quarter performance of the agriculture sector. We are happy even with this growth as we were expecting a significant contraction in agriculture,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

“It feels good that even if we have a big problem right now, there is still positive growth [for us]. Thanks to our farmers and fishers for their hard work and dedication to continuously produce enough food for the country,” he said.

As the pandemic is far from over, Dar has revised his earlier target of a two percent growth for the sector for 2020.

“It is an uphill target because of the pandemic, it will be difficult to reach two percent. But we hope that we can still reach at least 1.5 percent,” Dar said.

This year’s new target is still a huge jump from the measly 0.7 percent growth recorded in 2019.

Agricultural economist and University of Asia and the Pacific professor Rolando Dy said the target is challenging, but doable.

“Corn will peak in the third quarter, then palay (unhusked rice) in the fourth quarter. There will also be meat demand for the holidays,” Dy told The STAR in a text message.

At current prices, the agricultural sector grossed P439.77 billion, 4.6 percent higher than the year ago as farmgate prices of commodities went up. Total value reached P861 billion in the first half, up 1.6 percent year on year.

Crops, which accounted for the bulk of total agricultural production, rose five percent as palay climbed seven percent. Corn also posted a 15.4 percent expansion.

Palay production increased to 4.13 million metric tons (MT) while corn production went up to 1.35 million MT.

“[Increase] in rice is expected as the RTL (Rice Tariffication Law) is providing funds to rice farmers,” Dy said.

Production gain was also noted in sugarcane, cacao, potato, tobacco and tomato. However, declines were seen in onion, cassava, rubber, abaca and coffee

At current prices, the crop sub-sector grossed P237.8 billion or an increase of 13.6 percent year-on-year.

The fisheries sub-sector, which made up 16 percent of total farm output, went up nine percent to P73.1 billion.

On the other hand, livestock production, which comprised 17.3 percent of the aggregate output, dropped 8.5 percent amid the presence of the African swine fever in the country. Gross earnings fell 7.4 percent to P73.8 billion.

In particular, hog production decreased 5.2 percent as the disease continues to spread in parts of the country. A total of 309,387 pigs had already been killed since the outbreak.

Poultry also went declined by 4.7 percent, representing 13 percent of the total agricultural output. Gross earnings in the sub-sector dropped 2.6 percent to P55.1 billion.

“Poultry production was affected by overstocked cold storages plus low farm gate prices,” Dy said.

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