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Agriculture shrank 1.2% in 2020

Agriculture shrank 1.2% in 2020

The country’s agriculture sector contracted by 1.2 percent in 2020 as production declines across all commodities in the last quarter pulled down the gains made in previous months.

For the last three months of the year, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that agricultural output declined by 3.8 percent—the biggest contraction recorded for the industry in 2020—as crops, livestock, poultry and fisheries registered lower output.

The tightening of supplies is especially being felt by consumers this month as prices of key food items in the market continue to rise.

The livestock industry, affected by the African swine fever (ASF), continued to register cuts in production since the second quarter. Production declined further by 13 percent in the last quarter, most notably in hogs.

Poultry production also shrank by 6 percent as several raisers decided to opt out of the chicken business after suffering from a glut.

Typhoon damage

Meanwhile, fisheries output declined by 4.7 percent due largely to the government-imposed closed fishing seasons, while crop production decreased by 0.4 percent due to the series of typhoons that hit the country in November.

The poor performance of the agriculture sector has contradicted projections of economic managers, who believed that agriculture might be the economy’s “saving grace” against the lingering effects of the pandemic.

Only agriculture was able to post gains during the second and third quarters of 2020 as most industries ground to a halt, but animal diseases and typhoons got the best of the country’s farmers and fishers as the year ended.

The Department of Agriculture earlier aimed for an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent, but this was later revised to 1.5 percent and eventually to 1 percent to accommodate the impact of the pandemic.

Resilient

Nonetheless, the agency maintained that the industry has remained resilient and announced that it would aim for a 2.5-percent growth again this year.

“We believe that despite the Taal volcano eruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, continued incidence of ASF and a series of strong typhoons, the country’s agriculture and fishery sector has remained pliant and resilient, facing head on and surmounting the huge challenges last year,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

He added that at least P46 billion has been set aside this year to finance banner programs that would boost palay and corn production, aquaculture and hog and poultry repopulation.

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