Central Visayas agri sector remains sluggish

Carlo Lorenciana (The Freeman) - June 4, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Agriculture has long been a lagging sector in the Central Visayas economy.

But why has the industry, where most of the poor belong, been growing at a slower pace?

According to the Department of Agriculture, Region 7's agricultural production last year saw a measly growth of only 1.09 percent.

In fact, Central Visayas was among the least contributors to the country's gross agriculture output in 2018, only at 2.66 percent, based on the DA's regional output data obtained by The FREEMAN.

The whole Visayas region recorded the least contribution to the total gross output in agriculture at 16.41 percent last year. The shares were 16.07 percent for crops, 18.51 percent for livestock, 14.92 percent for poultry and 16.73 percent for fisheries.

According to Efren Carreon, regional head at the National Economic and Development Authority, the agriculture sector remains to need the utmost government support.

He said that while key sub-sectors had grown, growth in the while industry remained lackluster.

The region's crops, which include rice and corn, contracted in 2018 by 4.52 percent, among the biggest decreases nationwide.

However, production of fisheries, poultry and livestock all posted positive gains at 2.20 percent, 9.01 percent and 1.08 percent, respectively.

But while agriculture production grew slower, the value of the region's gross output saw a double-digit growth in 2018.

The region's gross farm output was valued at P83.23 billion, up 10.07 percent from P75.52 billion

Crop production value reached P29.18 billion, growing 3.17 percent from P28.29 billion.

Region 7's gross value of livestock production also rose 14.31 percent to P27.16 billion from P23.76 billion.

Poultry output likewise amounted to P16.75 billion, up 10.99 percent from P15.09 billion.

The region was also the second biggest gainer in the gross value of fisheries

production at 19.67 percent to P10.03 billion from P8.38 billion.

This year, the agriculture sector is in for a challenging period as it reels from the brunt of the El Niño dry spell.

Earlier, DA regional director Salvador Diputado had said the El Niño-induced dry spell has already caused reduction in farm production this year.

If the El Niño phenomenon persistsin the succeedingquarters, the DA sees a lower productivity in the farm sector in 2019.

The phenomenon has escalated worries farmers and fishermen will see lower income as it erodes their output.

Agriculture has continued to be a poor performer in the regional economy, but industry remains hopeful of massive government aid that will give it the much needed boost. (FREEMAN)

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