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Philippine agri output contracts by 0.3% in first quarter

The Philippines opened 2022 with a contraction in agricultural output, dragged mainly by the reduction in crops, livestock, and fisheries, data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday showed.

The first quarter value of agriculture and fisheries production at constant 2018 prices fell by 0.3%, compared to a 3.4% decline in the same quarter of 2021 and a 2.6% increase in the final quarter of 2021 — the year's only quarter of growth.

The crops subsector fell by 1.6%, led by the decline in tobacco, which shrank by 24.1%. This was followed by sugarcane which dropped by 10.1%, cabbage by 7.3%, tomato by 6.1%, and coffee by 3.9%.

Declines were also seen in palay, corn, banana, cassava, rubber, sweet potato, tomato, and calamansi. Growth was recorded in coconut, pineapple, onion, eggplant, abaca, potato, ampalaya, mongo, cacao, and other crops.

Livestock slipped by 1.0%, as contractions were seen in hogs, cattle, and goats, while carabao and dairy expanded.

Fisheries declined by 5.8%, led by mudcrab (alimango) which fell by 24.8%, followed by skipjack (gulyasan) by 20.2%, fimbriated sardines (tunsoy) by 13.5%, milkfish (bangus) by 12.7%, and tiger prawn (sugpo) by 11.3%.

The only subsector which posted growth was poultry, which climbed by 12.3%, as chicken increased by 13.0%, chicken eggs by 12.4%, and duck eggs by 11.8%. Duck production fell by 21.5%.

The value of production in agriculture and fisheries stood at P498.61 billion at current prices, equivalent to 2.1% higher than the previous year’s level. 

Fertilizer subsidy

Agriculture Secretary William Dar attributed the contraction to “spiraling prices of fertilizer.”

Dar said the government needs to give more fertilizer subsidies to increase production.

“‘Pag hindi tayo magbigay ng (if we don’t give) fertilizer subsidy there is a possibility that production level will go down and this will be a big setback,” the Agriculture chief said during a virtual forum organized by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines on Wednesday.

Dar said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is asking the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for an additional P6 billion to fund its fertilizer subsidy program, which is targeted to be distributed during the wet season.

The DA’s subsidy program provides a P2,000 fertilizer voucher for farmers planting inbred rice varieties and a P3,000 voucher for those planting hybrid rice varieties. —AOL/VBL, GMA News