DA expects higher palay output despite Odette

Catherine Talavera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) remains hopeful that the country’s palay or unhusked rice production last year will still exceed 2020’s harvest despite the damage caused by Typhoon Odette.

“This year (2021), the sector will be bannered again by the crops sub-sector, particularly palay. We expect another record harvest, surpassing the previous year’s output of 19.4 million metric tons (MT), despite losses due to Typhoon Odette,”Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement over the weekend.

DA Philippine Integrated Rice Program director Dionisio Alvindia said initial estimates show that 2021 palay production could reach at least 19.95 million MT, combining the January-September output of 12.6 million MT and the expected fourth quarter of at least 7.4 million MT.

The full year estimate, however, is lower than the DA’s target of 20.4 million MT.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that palay production reached 12.6 million MT from January to September last year, up 5.45 percent from the 11.9 million MT produced in the same period the prior year.

In the third quarter alone, palay production reached 3.75 million MT, slightly higher than the 3.516 million MT in the same quarter in 2020.

The figure,however, is 10 percent lower than the 4.17 million MT in the previous quarter.

Latest data from the DA-Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center showed that damage to agriculture due to Odette had reached P9 billion as of the morning of Dec.30.

Rice accounted for 21.2 percent of the damage with a total affected area of 77,901 hectares and volume loss at 106,891 MT valued at P1.9 billion.

“Despite the damage caused by ‘Typhoon Odette,’ we in the ‘OneDA Family’ are confident that we have performed better this year, providing more services and interventions despite our limited budget. Hence, we are optimistic that the 2021 agriculture sector performance is better than the previous year,”Dar said.

“We would be happy with a one-percent positive growth,” he added.

In November, the DA lowered its agriculture growth target to one percent from its earlier target of two percent as the sector posted production declines in the third quarter.

PSA data showed that the value of production in local agriculture declined by 2.6 percent to P406.8 billion in the third quarter.  This is a larger decline compared to the 1.5 percent drop in the previous quarter.

In addition, the value of agricultural production fell by 2.52 percent during the nine-month period  to P1.26 trillion.

The livestock sector led the decline in the third quarter as it registered a 15.2 percent reduction in production, which accounted for 15.3 percent of the country’s total agricultural output.

“Were it not for ASF (African swine fever), the agri-fishery sector would have registered a positive growth in 2020 and this year,” said Dar, adding that the combined efforts against ASF are gaining headway as disease incidence is waning.

“Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, ASF and other challenges, we persevered and moved on, partnering strongly with the local government units, the private sector, agri-fishery industry stakeholders, state universities and colleges,  farmers’ cooperatives and associations and several international funding institutions,” he said.


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