Agri growth goal missed

The country’s farm output ended flat in 2022, underperforming the government’s expectation of more than 1 percent growth, due to lower crops and fishery harvests.

In a report, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said agricultural production had dipped by 0.1 percent in 2022, recording a downtrend for three consecutive years following a meager increase logged in 2019. However, last year’s rate of contraction was smaller than the decline of 1.7 percent and 1.2 percent in 2021 and 2020, respectively.

In the fourth quarter of 2022 alone, farm sector output fell by 1 percent, reversing the 1.6-percent growth in the third quarter.

The value of agriculture and fishery production at constant 2018 prices stood at P1.756 trillion, slightly down from P1.758 trillion in the previous year.

The Department of Agriculture had anticipated a farm sector growth of 1.2 to 1.5 percent last year, riding on the growth of the livestock subsector.

Prior to that, the sector recorded a decrease of 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent in the first and second quarters of last year, respectively.

In the past year, the fisheries subsector incurred the biggest decline at 5 percent while crops subsector, which accounted for 59.1 percent of total output, lost 1 percent.

But overall decline was tempered by the poultry subsector, which expanded by 7 percent while the livestock subsector inched up by 1.9 percent.

Industry stakeholders were expecting a worse performance primarily due to the rising cost of producing agricultural commodities and the continued influx of imported goods.

United Broiler Raisers Association president Elias Jose Inciong questioned the PSA report on the agriculture sector, citing the reduced participation of domestic producers in the value chain amid what was deemed to be the government’s preference for importation.

“Assuming it [PSA report] is reliable, despite high retail prices, the said decrease is a glaring indication of the declining share of producers (mainly farmers and fisherfolk) in the value chain,” said Inciong in a message.

Federation of Free Farmers national manager Raul Montemayor said the sector could have rendered a “worse performance” particularly for crops as they continued to grapple with higher prices of fertilizer, fuel and other farm inputs.

“The minimal 1 percent decline in the crops subsector, including palay, is suspect, given the major increases in fertilizer, fuel and other input prices which should have led farmers to reduce their hectarage or scrimp on inputs,” he said.

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