Agri posts 2.92% growth in 2012

BANNERED by the crops, poultry and livestock subsectors, the country’s agriculture industry grew by 2.92 percent (%) in 2012, grossing P1.4 trillion at current prices.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the three subsectors — which accounted for about 82% of total farm output — posted a combined growth of 3.6%. The fisheries subsector, which shared 18% to total production, dipped by 0.04%, mainly due to a 3.9% decline in municipal fish catch.

The crops subsector played a major role, despite the adverse effects of typhoons and floods last year, as palay (paddy rice) and corn posted record harvests of 18.03 million metric tons (MT) and 7.41 million MT, respectively.

Secretary Alcala said the record palay harvest — which was 8.1% more than the 2011 output of 16.68 million MT — was attributed to the 3.4% increase in total area harvested totaling 4.69 million hectares versus 4.54 million hectares in 2011.  The 8.1% increase in palay harvest is the highest rate achieved since the year 2000.

He said more farmers were encouraged to plant immediately after the 2012 summer crop so they could harvest by August or September, and thereafter make a ‘Quick-Turn-Around’ (QTA), or plant again on or before September.

“Our efforts are paying off, and we would like to implement similar early planting and QTA schemes and cover more areas this year, and attain our sufficiency target of 20 million MT by end of 2013,” said the DA chief.

Further, the average harvest of palay per hectare increased by 4.3% to 3.84 MT from 3.68 MT in 2011.  This was due to innovative schemes introduced by the DA to make high quality seeds accessible and affordable to farmers such as the registered starter seed packs, the community seed banks and the regional seed buffer stocking system.

For example, through the 2-kilogram (kg) registered starter seed packs, about 102,000 farmers and irrigators’ associations received one million kg of registered seeds from September 2011 to September 2012.  From the registered seeds, the farmers harvested and produced about 26.5 million kg of certified seeds.

The community seed exchange system that implemented the starter seed scheme gathered 9.7 million kg of certified seeds, which are then made available to farmers who pledged to return 1.5 kg of good seeds to the seed exchange for every kg of seeds they received.

Upon collection, the seed exchange, in turn, distributed 6.5 million kg of seeds to more farmer-users and stored 3.2 million kg in the community seed banks. The balance of 16.7 million kg of certified seeds were traded in the commercial seed market.

From the P1,200-seed subsidy per hectare under previous programs, the starter pack that only cost P80 has made certified seeds available in the countryside not just for one cropping season, but throughout several seasons through the community seed exchange system.

In addition to accessible certified seeds, sufficient supply of water through the expansion of irrigated areas under the national and communal systems and adequate fertilization contributed to the overall increase in palay harvest equivalent to 160 kg or 3.2 cavans (50 kg each) per hectare.

Central Luzon has remained the country’s rice granary, as it produced 3.22 million MT, 23% more than in 2011. The other major palay producers are: Cagayan Valley, with 2.43 million MT; Western Visayas (2.29 million MT); Ilocos (1.74 million MT); Soccsksargen (1.27 million MT); Bicol (1.17 million MT); and Mimaropa (1.03 million MT).

The country’s farmers also harvested a record 7.41 million MT of corn, 6.25% more than the 2011 level of 6.97 million MT. This was mainly due to an increase in harvested area as farmers were encouraged to plant more because of high farmgate prices. Area harvested totaled 2.59 million hectares, 1.9% or 49,213 hectares more than last year’s 2.54 million hectares.

Also, average yield has increased by 4.2% to 2.86 MT per hectare, from 2.74 MT per hectare in 2011. This was due to farmers’ continued use of quality seeds (hybrid and OPV), adequate irrigation, and fertilizer application.

On a regional basis, the country’s major corn producers are Cagayan Valley, with 1.88 million MT, followed by Northern Mindanao (1.23 million MT), Soccsksargen (1.20 million MT), and ARMM (0.76 million MT).

Other crops that performed well last year included tobacco (up by 7%), pineapple (6.7%), coconut (3.8%), and rubber (4%).

The total value of various crops produced in 2012 amounted to P797.7 billion (B) at current prices, led by palay (P292 B), banana (P108 B), corn (P94 B), coconut (P88.6 B), and sugarcane (P42.3 B).

The poultry subsector, which accounted for 14.3% of total farm output, grew by 4.5%, with a gross value of P167.1 B.  Chicken and chicken eggs recorded output gains of 4.6% and 4.4%, respectively. Likewise, production of duck and duck eggs has increased by 2% and 5.5%, respectively.

Livestock production inched up by 1.1%, with a gross value of P214.3B. Hog production grew by 1.7%, valued at P174.5B. The livestock subsector shared 16% to total farm output last year.

The fisheries subsector slightly dipped by 0.04% compared to 2011, as municipal fisheries production decreased by 3.9%. However, aquaculture harvest posted a 2.85% growth, while commercial fisheries increased by 0.23%. The fisheries subsector shared 18.2% to total farm output, and grossed P237.2 B at current prices.

The DA through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has addressed the declining fishery production by enforcing timely ‘closed season’ in targeted fishing areas to allow the regeneration of fish species and marine resources.

The DA-BFAR also encourages fishing communities to engage in aquasilviculture and rehabilitation of mangrove areas.

Finally, the average farmgate prices of palay increased to P16.20 per kilo, up by 6.3%, and corn, up by 1% to P12.70 per kilo.

Overall, other farm and fishery products have remained affordable, with the food price index down to 2.2% in 2012 from 5.7% in 2011.

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