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Growing agriculture

The latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority indicates that the country’s agricultural and fisheries sector declined for the second consecutive year, slipping 0.6 percent to P433.12 billion this year.

The decline is slightly higher than the 0.3 percent contraction in the first quarter, but lower than the 1.5 percent decline recorded in the same period last year. From January to June, the agricultural output went down 0.4 percent this year, which is lower than the 2.5 percent drop registered last year.

Crops, which accounted for 54.9 percent of the total value of production, decreased by 2.7 percent. This was despite the higher production of palay and corn. Reductions were recorded in sugarcane, coffee, tomato, mango, potato, cabbage, pineapple, abaca, tobacco and rubber.

Fisheries production, which accounted for 15.8 percent share of the total, contracted by 2.3 percent. Double-digit decreases were noted in the value of production of tiger prawn, blue crab, frigate tuna, mudcrab and bangus. This decline was attributed to the lack of nutritious feeds by Tugon Kabuhayan convenor and former Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director Asis Perez.

On the other hand, the livestock and poultry sector recorded increases in the value of production. Livestock contributed 14.6 percent while poultry accounted for 14.7 percent of the total. The turnaround in the livestock sector was notable, as it posted a 2.1 percent growth, particularly in hog production, whose value of production expanded by 3 percent. Poultry also went up by 7.8 percent.

Faced with a second consecutive year of declines, the agriculture sector will need all the help it can get. Hopefully the situation can be reversed with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself currently sitting as head of the Department of Agriculture. If he can use his powers as chief executive to turn around the DA and the sector it is responsible for that has been ignored, things could look up for the country’s agricultural production, which should be a good thing as the Philippines is still a largely agricultural country.

The people in charge of the agriculture sector who are now accountable to the president himself shouldn’t have any excuses for the sector’s continued downward trajectory. Despite the news of its continued decline, perhaps Filipinos can be optimistic that the president sitting as Agricultural Secretary can finally turn the sector around.*

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