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DA sees ‘modest’ growth for agriculture sector in 4th quarter

Department of Agriculture handout

By Revin Mikhael D. Ochave, Reporter

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) is hoping to see modest growth in the agriculture sector in the remaining months of the year, after the 2.6% contraction seen in the third quarter.

Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin D. Adriano said at a virtual briefing on Tuesday that the department is now targeting 1% growth for the agriculture sector this year. This is below the DA’s already downgraded full-year growth target of 2%.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday that the value of production in the agriculture sector at constant 2018 prices shrank by 2.6% in the third quarter, as production of crops, livestock and fisheries declined.

For the first nine months of the year, the farm sector contracted by 2.5%.

Mr. Adriano said the DA is upbeat that the sector will see a modest recovery in the fourth quarter ahead of the increased demand during the holiday season.

“Hopefully, we get that 1% full-year growth as long as no typhoons will hit the country during the remaining months of 2021,” he said.

In October, severe tropical storm Maring (international name Kompasu) has caused P2.26 billion in agricultural damage in the Cordillera Administrative Region, the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, the Bicol Region, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Soccsksargen.

“There might be some difficulty in meeting the growth target of 2% given the contraction of the farm sector. But I think there will be a recovery during the last quarter of 2021 for two reasons, one is that the farmers are planting already, including the vegetable farmers who have been hit hard by the successive typhoons that visited the northern regions of the country,” Mr. Adriano said.

“The second is we expect that there is going to be an upswing in demand given the Christmas season. Therefore, we are upbeat that the fourth quarter will see a modest recovery on the part of the agriculture sector,” he added.

Mr. Adriano said the crops subsector is expected to carry the agriculture sector moving forward, citing the 6.7% growth in palay (unmilled rice) production in the third quarter. Crops accounted for 54% of total farm output during the July-September period.

He said the agriculture sector had a good performance, but was hampered by the spate of typhoons, which was beyond the control of the government.

“If you look at the data, the agriculture sector performed relatively well. However, the weather plays a big factor in terms of the sector’s performance. We estimate that the total damage brought by typhoons Jolina, Kiko, and Fabian is about P2.85 billion,” Mr. Adriano said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Adriano estimated that the livestock subsector, particularly the hog industry, will see the positive results of the government’s assistance such as hog repopulation efforts by next year.

The livestock subsector contracted by 15.2% in the third quarter, still affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak. Hog production also dropped by 17.8%.

“If we can increase production in the green zones or areas not affected by ASF, I think we will be able to see the so-called ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in terms of ASF by the middle of next year,” Mr. Adriano said.

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